Building Entrepreneurial After School Programs


Last week I had the opportunity to meet with the leaders of one of Santa Barbara County’s local Boys and Girls Club. Together we’re planning a 6 week (1 day a week) after school entrepreneurial studies program as part of a broader STEM initiative. Our goal is to inspire students to pursue studies in math and science.

Why would you include entrepreneurship as part of this program?

I’ve built and taught several courses teaching students to discover problems and create innovative solutions. I’ve adapted Steve Blank’s curriculum, The Lean Launchpad, to help students systematically create and test hypotheses about the problem they wish to solve and the solution they imagine creating. Sounds familiar to a common process in teaching STEM courses, right? You guessed it, at it’s most basic level, this curriculum utilizes the scientific method.

Here’s why I think this is important.

Teaches Students Real Skills

The process of customer development and testing an idea helps students develop skills that will help them be more attractive to employers. Here are just a few of the skills that are developed through these types of programs.

  • Learn how to develop a hypothesis
  • Learn how to build a business model
  • Learn how to test a hypothesis
  • Learn how to communicate an idea and share your findings
  • Learn how to work with others

Real Problem Based Learning

  • By challenging students to solve real problems for real people they begin to own their learning process.
  • This forces them to gather knowledge about subjects that they otherwise might not have found interesting.
  • Creates a process of introspection that leads to understanding the “why” behind the subjects they are learning.

What challenges will we face with this program?

  • Limited amount of time.
  • Students have a lot of other things going on.
  • These students may have had limited exposure to both technology and entrepreneurship in general.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to document how I build out the curriculum and share it openly via my blog. During the course, I’ll write about what my students are discovering and how the course evolved over time. It’s going to be a ton of fun and I hope that others will engage with their ideas!

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