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Putting the E into entrepreneurship

Putting the E into entrepreneurship

Digital literacy, critical thinking, creativity and problem solving are the skills of the future. Clearly, STEM has a crucial role to play, but where does entrepreneurship come into the equation?

Putting the E into entrepreneurship

In 2015, the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) commissioned a report on the future of work. Their focus—ensuring that Australia’s next generation are equipped with the skills and experience for jobs of the future, not the past.

Alarmingly, The New Work Order report indicated that 60% of current students are studying or training for jobs that, in as few as 10 to 15 years, either won’t exist due to automation or will look markedly different as a result of the influence of computers.

OK, so the education system needs to evolve. But is it simply a case of putting more science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in schools?

Classrooms of the future, for the future

According to the FYA, skills of the future that are most in demand by employers are digital literacy, critical thinking, creativity and problem solving.

We can’t expect our teachers to become digital natives overnight. Thankfully, though, the internet delivers free online services such as Scratch and Codeacademy directly to students’ screens. These help children of all ages and abilities to develop their digital literacy in a self-paced and creative environment (including those ex-children otherwise known as parents!).

In-person programmes such as CoderDojo and Robogals fill another crucial gap, providing tech-savvy kids with a chance to develop their skills with help from mentors (often older students).

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Image|© Mojo Digital Studio 2017
Students pitching their business idea with Fiftysix Creations Ltd, National Science Week 2017

Steps in the right direction, no doubt, but it’s a long road.

STEM + entrepreneurship = WIN

In his book The Lessons School Forgot, my hyper-creative friend Steve Sammartino writes:

“We glorify celebrity and sporting achievement, but technologists are rarely recognised. I’ve lost count of how many sports people have been named Australian of the Year; it really is ‘fall of Rome’ stuff …

More and more kids are learning to code, to hack, to experiment with robotics—it feels like an exciting shift. But if we reconfigure their minds only to science, without addressing economics and entrepreneurship, we are still just teaching them to participate in someone else’s game.”

Steve encourages us to extend the STEM programme to develop ESTEEM—with the two extra E’s representing economics and entrepreneurship to our core focus of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Applying their STEM skills to real-world problems and business opportunities helps students develop those crucial (and in-demand) critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

If you want to see what that looks like in practice, check out the life-size LEGO car powered by air that Steve and his co-founder brought to life by combining STEM with a bit of entrepreneurial hustle!

Video|Steve Sammartino
Life size lego car powered by air

Easier said than done?

Not everyone is going to come up with their own #superawesomemicroproject at school tomorrow, but there are some great programmes out there to help us get started.

For example, FYA’s $20 Boss provides students with $20 ‘start-up capital’ to launch a venture over the course of a school term. Teachers are provided with a cloud-based toolkit to support in-classroom delivery.

Dozens of Startup Weekend events take place around Australia each year. Here, up to 100 aspiring entrepreneurs come together to conceive businesses in 54 crazy hours of pitching and prototyping, hacking and hustling.

Video|Startup Weekend
What is Startup Weekend?

Spacecubed is now tailoring this model for on-campus environments, with the first of their Intergenerational Innovation Network events run at All Saints College in October, combining students from five schools over a day and a half of collaboration and co-creation.

What you want, baby I got it

For soul diva Aretha Franklin, it was all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

While I love Motown and absolutely agree with the sentiments of that classic song, when it comes to educating our kids, I am with Steve Sammartino. It’s all about combining science, technology, engineering and mathematics with economics and entrepreneurship.

E-S-T-E-E-M. Find out what it means to me.

And more importantly, what it means to the next generation of creators, innovators and job creators.

We love science puns VIDEO


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