Last year Ted Ganchiff came over to Inventables to take a tour and introduce me to SEE a program to give kids experience starting a company in 2nd grade. SEE stands for The Science and Entrepreneurship Exchange. With a focus on experiential learning in entrepreneurship and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), SEE’s approach incorporates unique real-world startup and engineering projects into existing curriculum in grades 1 - 8, engaging students with expert mentors and collaborators from universities (Northwestern University is a founding partner) and business at key inflection points. By starting their own businesses, and designing, manufacturing and selling real products, students will get an immersive and sustained education in the power and promise of entrepreneurship and engineering, and reinforcement for their math and science education.
This year they worked closely with Beyond Design on a program called dig-8. The idea was to solve a problem through design research, brainstorming, and, ultimately, coming up with a big idea that incorporates design, manufacturing considerations, and marketing plans (and, later, getting to manufacture and sell one selected design) is unheard of for the majority of 8th grade students. Add the fact that they pitch their ideas and plans to real entrepreneurs, educators, and business owners and it’s something very few students have the opportunity to do in K-12 schools today.
At the beginning of each session of dig-8, they review the vocabulary from the previous session and introduce any new vocabulary that the students should know. The session this week was about brainstorming. Mentors from Beyond Design introduced the brainstorming process, the rules for brainstorming, and demonstrated how to map out their ideas on index cards and point out key features.
After splitting into their respective teams, the students presented their desk research from the homework lesson and the products they selected as potential competition. These products were used in the brainstorming session as inspiration, as well as additional stimulus material prepared by our team at Beyond Design.
Today they launched their product on Kickstarter and in the first few hours raised over $1500!