Students building their prototypes.

This is a continuing series of stories in which we are highlighting the winning Career Readiness Mini-Grant projects.

Written by program participants, Amy Feaster and Jaclyn Nelson, assisted by Amanda Capone:

The Build Your Legacy and Spark Your Legacy Programs introduced entrepreneurship to young middle school students, grades 5-8. There were over 300 students in attendance for these 2 programs from Blossburg, Liberty, and Mansfield schools in the Southern Tioga School District. The sessions were led by the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) club. The advisors were Ann Kieser, Melissa Bubb, and Julie Betts, helped by high school students (from Mansfield) Ellianna Fry and Alex Stein, and (from Liberty) Emma Harris and Daina Dawes. With the sponsorship from Team Pennsylvania, we were able to provide a great experience of the real world to these young students, helping with their networking skills, working together in groups, creativity, presentation skills, problem-solving, money management, marketing, professionalism, and social responsibility.

Each program was structured over 3 days. On the first day, we were assigned to a table and had time to meet our group. FBLA introduced us to the whole entrepreneurship business model through videos, presentations, and activities. We then brainstormed what we wanted our invention to be and drew it out. Jaclyn’s team created a “Bright Light” that alerts the teachers when you need help. Amy’s team created “Trash on the Dash”, a customizable garbage bin for your car that separates out recyclables.

On day 2, we picked up where we left off and created a logo and slogan for our invention. We learned about financing and how much we wanted our product to cost. After that, we got to work on making a prototype. We also had to make a PowerPoint presentation about our product and wrote a radio jingle for it.

Students present their products to a panel of local business owners.

On the last day, we put our final touch-ups on our products and presented them to a panel of 2 judges. After everyone presented, they took the finalists who presented again to all the judges. Prizes were awarded to first, second, and third place.

The overall feedback from participants was very positive. One parent said, “I want to say thank you so much for the Spark your Legacy program! My daughter is so excited and gaining so much through this experience. I appreciate the planning that everyone has put into this project. She also has great things to say about the high school helpers. They’ve all been very positive and encouraging. I hope we can continue this in the future!” These programs have also generated interest from a local economic development board, Develop Tioga, and Shell Oil & Gas, who want to learn more about it and possibly grow it county-wide.