Twenty two aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs visited Generator last week as part of their summer experience with the Governor’s Institute of Vermont entrepreneurship program. The program, hosted at Vermont Tech in Randolph, led a day-long immersion and discovery activity to introduce young people to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Burlington. Generator is thrilled to be counted within this network!
Among the goals of the one-week summer Institute are to support youth to view problems as opportunities that they can take action on now, to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and increased confidence as entrepreneurial leaders, and how to break down perceived obstacles to starting a venture.
As part of their experience at Generator, the students were given a tour of the space, our tools, and an introduction to some of the nascent and emerging enterprises represented by our members. Following the tour, Executive Director Lars Hasselblad Torres, founding board member Michael Metz, and volunteer Wallace Johnson were on hand to lead a discussion around the entrepreneurial journey, sharing their perspectives and advice from their own experiences as entrepreneurs and educators. Among the questions that stimulated good rounds of conversation:
- Why do you want to be in business? (Best answer: To solve a problem)
- How do you measure value? (Best answer: By what I can give back)
- What is a social enterprise? (Best answer: Makes money while doing good)
The students were fantastic to learn with – inquisitive, engaged, responsive, thoughtful. While many had ambitions beyond owning their own business – some wanted to be teachers and lawyers, and others to work within a thriving business – it was clear that they had high energy to understand how businesses work. And that the Governor’s Institute was tapping and feeding that appetite.
Our day together wrapped up with a design challenge, an outdoor activity to put their problem-solving prowess and team work to the test.
The group of twenty-two teens was divided into two teams and given the following challenge: to take eight 8-foot studs and six 4-foot studs and, without using any other tools or materials, transform them into the longest free-standing bridge possible with at least 12″ of clearance at the center. Students had ten minutes to plan together and ten minutes to execute.
Creativity and problem-solving challenges are always a thrill to observe. Every group forms its own work-style in the drive to perform; they all approach key dynamics like communication, prototyping, feedback, and iteration differently. The situation was no different for these two teams of students that valiantly put their heads together to tackle the challenge.
After ten minutes of sketching and discussion, teams were moved outside for the build portion of the challenge. They had ten minutes to implement their solution or develop a new one now that they had access to real goods.
Needless to say, the students nailed the activity. Team A completely pivoted in their strategy mid-way through the challenge, having heard and developed willingness to test a new approach. Team B worked hard to iterate on the same basic idea, implementing it in different ways. Both Teams were highly participatory, upbeat and super fun to work with.
Curious about the winning solution? Google the search term, “Leonardo Da Vinci bridge.” Congratulations to Team A for making this “rediscovery” during your build challenge!
Curious about ways Generator can contribute your goals around youth engagement, entrepreneurship, creativity and problem-solving? Reach out to Karen Cornish, Generator’s Director of Education to learn about the turn-key innovation activities we offer. Contact Karen at [email protected].