What is the Young Sharks Program?

With generous funding from the C.S. Mott Foundation, UM-Flint’s Office of Outreach is excited to announce that the Young Sharks Entrepreneurship Program for 3-5 grade students and their teachers is launching in Genesee County. 

UM-Flint’s Young Sharks Program is both a curriculum for teachers and their students in grades 3-5 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 3-5 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 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 and a UM-Flint economics faculty member.

During the Young Sharks Entrepreneurship Expo and Pitch Competition on December 3rd, 2019, participating classrooms will display the business ventures that they have created, and one business team from each classroom will participate in a pitch competition. 

What are the Goals of the Young 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 problems 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.

The Young Sharks curriculum was 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 Does the Young Sharks Program 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 who 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 on December 3rd, and all participating student businesses will display their presentation boards during the event. During the December 3rd event, all students will visit the displays and be present for the pitch competition. Community will also be invited to attend the event and will be encouraged to provide feedback to the student teams.  

For additional information, please contact Paula at pnas@umich.edu.

This Program is Funded by: