Youth Entrepreneurship

Young Sharks and Junior Sharks Program

What is the Young Sharks Program?
With generous funding from the C.S. Mott Foundation, UM-Flint’s Office of Outreach created the Young Sharks and Junior Sharks youth entrepreneurship programs for 3-8 grade students and their teachers.

UM-Flint’s Young Sharks and Junior Sharks programs are both a curriculum for teachers and their students in grades 3-8 and a county-wide event for young entrepreneurs to showcase their business ideas. The Young Sharks curriculum is an innovative and engaging entrepreneurship and economics curriculum for 3-8 grade students that aligns entrepreneurship lessons with State of Michigan content standards in social studies, integrating with science, math, reading, language arts, and 21st-century career skills. Students are guided step-by-step from the ideation stage of a business to launch, culminating in a business pitch presentation. The Young Sharks curriculum was developed and written by a former K-8 social studies curriculum director, a UM-Flint faculty member, and the Office of Economic Development team.

What are the Goals of the Young and Junior Sharks Program?
The Young Sharks program has been designed with the needs of students and educators in mind.

In addition to learning the fundamentals of creating a business and the relevant economics and business concepts, students will develop the skills associated with the entrepreneurial mindset, such as teamwork, problem-solving, persistence, risk-taking, creativity, and curiosity. Students who participate in the Young Sharks program learn to be creative thinkers and problem solvers and develop a clear understanding of the steps to becoming an entrepreneur, all while learning grade-appropriate social studies, economics, math, and literature content. Learning these skills at a young age allows the students to develop a foundation for critical thinking and adapting to new learning opportunities with greater confidence.

Young Sharks and Junior Sharks were developed by a team with experience in the areas of K-8 social studies curriculum development, economics content, and entrepreneurship training. The lessons have been designed to address the needs of teachers who are faced with a limited amount of time in the school day, so lessons integrate economics, math, science, and language arts content into the entrepreneurship material.

How Do the Young Sharks and Junior Sharks Programs Work?
Elementary school teachers participate in a professional development workshop that is co-facilitated by the authors of the Young Sharks curriculum. Those teachers who choose to adopt the curriculum in their classroom are provided with the complete set of lesson plans, student worksheets and activities, display boards, and support from the UM-Flint facilitators. Students in those classrooms form teams that generate business ideas in four categories: inventions, services, performing arts, and visual arts. Each team of student businesses creates a business pitch presentation and display board. Participating classrooms will select one winning business team to compete in the pitch competition and all participating student businesses will display their presentation boards during the event.

For additional information, please contact Paula at [email protected].