Imaginative Entrepreneurs in the Lower School

As students enter the Lower School Technology classroom, they are greeted by inspiring words like “What will you make today?” “Create something that will make the world awesome,” and “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” These messages, along with Lower School Technology Integrator Jasslin Betances, encourage them to dream big, take chances and get creative every day. Recently, Class 3 students put their ingenuity to the test by using technology to create and market their very own companies!

The students were broken up into small brainstorming groups to create companies that would solve problems they had identified as affecting the Chapin community, like lack of storage for students’ supplies at their desks and wanting to play hand games but not having a partner to play with. Ms. Betances encouraged them to be innovative designers by creating new solutions to these problems using digital tools. To do this, the students followed the design thinking process:

-Empathize (learn about your customers and their problems/needs)

-Define (Clearly define the problem you want to solve)

-Ideate (brainstorm and select your solution)

-Prototype (build a representation of your idea/solution)

-Test (test your idea/solution and gain feedback)

After deciding what products and services their companies would provide, the young entrepreneurs learned more about brand names, logos, slogans and jingles, then created their own. Their creative company names included Bright Ideas, The Fast Fixers, Community Solvers, and 100% Gator. They also came up with a variety of clever slogans like “Ideas Bring Us Together”; “Bam! We Fixed It.”; “Your Problem, Our Solution”; and “Get Your Gator On!”

Now that their companies were formed, it was time to share them with the Chapin community. Using laptops and Microsoft Word, each group created posters, business cards, and brochures to help market their businesses, considering all of the information their potential customers needed to know. They worked together to develop informative yet eye-catching marketing materials with straightforward text and crucial details like business phone numbers, email addresses, hours of operation, and more! “Read it to yourself out loud. That’s a good way to find mistakes,” Ms. Betances encouraged one student as she wrote copy for her company’s brochure.

“As an adult you will be asked to do things without being given specific instructions,” she added. “You have to be resourceful and figure it out on your own.” While Ms. Betances showed them Microsoft Word basics, the girls learned the rest through exploration and trial and error. “They had to figure out how to make it work for them,” she explained.

The students learned simple tips and tricks as they worked independently, such as how to spellcheck – “What does that red squiggly line mean?” – and how to copy and paste. Others discovered things like how to insert a picture into a document, how to align text, and how to use keyboard shortcuts to print, copy/paste, and save. As they learned these new skills, the girls were able to share them with their group members and classmates, exchanging knowledge until each student could successfully complete her project.

While this entrepreneurship project was creative and fun, it also introduced Class 3 to basic laptop and word processing skills that will prove invaluable as they transition to Middle School next year. “It’s a subject that can be dry and tedious, but this makes it engaging and memorable,” Ms. Betances explained.

As one class drew to a close and the students began closing up their laptops, they were reminded of one more important Microsoft Word lesson… clicking the ‘save’ button. “I clicked save so my hard work will be here when I come back next time!” one student shared with a smile, already looking forward to her next visit to the Lower School Technology room.