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Engaging the Tween Entrepreneur

shark learnI got this email from Joan M:

I teach an entrepreneurship class to 7th and 8th graders.  The students have to create a business plan and present their idea to a group of potential investers.  They watch Shark Tank to earn extra credit for the class.  I would love to share my experiences.  This is my 5th year teaching the class.

I said “GO FOR IT,” and she sent me this post:

I am a Certified Entrepreneurship Teacher trained through the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. I am also a National Board Certified teacher. This is my 20th year teaching in public school. I have been teaching Principles of Business to 7th and 8th graders for the past five years. It has been challenging yet rewarding. You may be wondering. Is it possible to teach entrepreneurship skills to someone in this age group?

I have had the opportunity to see these young people grasp the basic principles of entrepreneurship and add youthful optimism to create some interesting products/services. The students write a full business plan which includes the executive summary and financial statements. They have the option of working as a sole proprietor or working with a partner. Throughout the year we have access to mentors to help the students improve their presentation skills. At the end of the year they present their ideas to a panel of judges for the opportunity to win cash prizes and a trip to New York City to compete on a national level.

Before taking this course most of the students have never considered entrepreneurship as a career opportunity. Take a journey back to your 7th or 8th grade year. Did you have the confidence to stand in front of a group of adults to speak about an idea that you conceived?

Making the Tween Entrepreneur

I begin the course by giving students random materials and challenging them to create a new product. There is no limit as to what can be designed. After the design phase they must present their idea to the class. This is a huge obstacle for some. Public speaking is difficult at this age and confirmation from peers is important. As the student presents the audience is not allowed to ridicule the idea. This provides a level of comfort. Students then complete a self-assessment. Their personal characteristics are compared to characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.

According to the U. S. Small Business Administration Facts website small business firms employ half of all private sector employees. (

Let the engagement begin!!

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob and more.

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