Two weeks ago, the halls and offices of Mackintosh Academy-Boulder were buzzing with fifth graders interviewing faculty, staff, and administrators. “What kinds of problems, large or small, do you encounter in your daily life here at school?” was the most overheard question.
The fifth grade is currently in the thick of an economics and entrepreneurship unit. They have been investigating basic economics principles such as supply and demand, competition, monopoly, investments and stocks, budgeting, etc. With all of that knowledge under their belts, they have moved into application mode.
In science, students are using the design thinking process to create products, based on the aforementioned interviews, that serve the needs of specific people in the school. In homeroom, students are creating business plans and pitch decks to market their products as if they were creating a start-up. In the design lab, the students have been prototyping their products.
To support student thinking, the teachers arranged for a Skype conversation with Toby Krout, the founder of Boomtown, and Erin Stadler, the program director at Boomtown, to discuss strategies for creating businesses, getting funding, and pitching start-up ideas. The teachers have also scheduled mentors who work in the start-up field, such as John Kembel and Michael Volk, to come into the classroom to work with students on their project ideas and pitch decks.
Next week the fifth grade will visit Modular Robotics to learn how a local company created and scaled a local start-up based on one person’s passion project idea. On February 2nd and 3rd, students will hold a Demo Day in which they pitch their product idea to a panel of teachers and industry professionals, including Zach Nies, who is the VP of Education at Techstars as well as a professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder.