With funding from the National Science Foundation, Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson, CSUF Entrepreneurship students Amerika Bernal and Monica Mercado, along with other contributors from the CSUF community have been teaching seventh- and eighth-grade students STEM and entrepreneurial lessons. These students recently completed their year long program where they learned the technical and emotional skills necessary to succeed in a startup and in the executive suite.
Over the course of the school year these students learned many things, including:
- How to develop a minimal viable product (MVP)
- The iterative lean startup methodology for starting a business or project
- How to give a compelling fast pitch; a one minute long talk that sells your business concept to an investor/partner
- Why failing fast and being able to pivot are so important for all businesses
This year’s program culminated in a massive, district-wide event that was part celebration, part inspirational talking, and part science/business fair. Many of the students who participated in this program were in attendance showing off their business ideas to the gathered masses. A few of the more intrepid students even gave sixty second fast pitches, or, more informally, a short exegesis about about their business idea. Certificates were awarded and everyone in attendance seemed to really enjoy themselves.
Amerika Bernal, one of the student-teachers in this program, had this to say about her experience:
My experience with this program has been very rewarding to me. The students from the STEM program acquired the skills and knowledge necessary to be able to develop a product and start up a business. Throughout the year the students engaged in prototyping, pitching, and business role playing.
According to Amerika, who is also busy promoting innovation at Cal State Fullerton, many of her students developed really exciting ideas but two stood out the most for her. One of the ideas was for a very thin phone case that is capable of absorbing most of the impact when a phone is dropped. The other idea is a medic alert device that passively monitors your vitals, like a Fitbit, that will notify the appropriate emergency services if the wearer were to experience a health crisis.
This story was also covered by the Orange County Register.