Junior Achievement came to work with my gifted and talented group this winter. The volunteer taught 6 lessons over 6 weeks. Each lesson gave the students more information about creating a business. Filling a need and knowing your customer are foundations of a good business.
During the process, the students studied various businesses and designed a youth center. The youth center was particularly fun, since we then held a “Shark Tank” like panel where the students had to convince us that we should invest in their business. They were challenged to persuade us that they had considered possibilities and had planned for as many problems as possible.
We completed our business study with an exposition. The students worked singly, in pairs or small groups to create a business. Some students had an idea of a business they wanted to actually start, others used this as an educational exercise. Either way, they researched start up costs, other similar businesses and materials.
Each group was challenged to create a display for our expo which would convince investors to take a chance on them. Some groups used a tri-fold display with printouts of their information, some used technology. We had a group do a prezi and another create a video with a green screen background.
As the expo approached, I coached the students in good presentation strategies: dress nicely, hold out your hand to shake those of the investors, introduce yourself. This part made the students very nervous, but they were willing to do what they were being asked to do!
We invited local business owners, the school board, the administration and the press. Even the mayor attended! Everyone was extremely impressed with what the students had put together. I set high standards for my students any time, but when we are inviting dignitaries to see their work, the bar gets set even higher. They not only reached the bar, they exceeded it.
Each investor was given pretend money to invest, which they did. The students were so excited – some received more investments than their start up costs!
In the end, it was one of the most successful events I’ve hosted. The students were proud of their work and the community had the chance to see what middle school students can do.