More than 130 elementary school students from across the Capital Region in grades 3 and 4 have been challenged to channel their creativity by developing a business or product idea as part of the Cool Kid IP Challenge powered by AT&T. The six week-long challenge, which follows the format of the ABC hit entrepreneurial business show Shark Tank, launched on Oct. 13. The top three teams from each school will present their concepts and compete for educational prizes at a live pitch event on campus to a panel of judges from the academic and business community on Dec. 8.
The STEM and entrepreneurial education initiative is a combined effort of CreositySpace, the Rensselaer Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship (Eship@RPI) in the Lally School of Management, AT&T, Phillips Lytle LLP, and Recovery Sports Grill.
The Cool Kid IP Challenge powered by AT&T was conceived by CreositySpace and connects elementary students and their teachers to STEM by bringing entrepreneurs and innovators into the classroom—both virtually and in-person.
“Entrepreneurs and innovators are on the front lines of innovation, and we believe they are ideal role models to make STEM current, real, and relatable to young students at a time when kids begin to ask, ‘what do I want to do when I grow up?’ They realize that STEM is a part of their future,” said Peg Zokowski, CresositySpace founder and CEO. The challenge actively incorporates key elements of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, and is designed to connect kids to their own ideas, and to see value in those ideas, while introducing them to the engineering design and product development process.
“The educational initiative of this challenge is consistent with its mission to train the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Jason Kuruzovich, associate professor in the Lally School, who also serves as academic director of the Severino Center. “This initiative recognizes that in today’s world, entrepreneurial skills are life skills and entrepreneurial opportunities occur in business, technology, the arts, socially and culturally. We believe that encouraging young minds around the Capital Region to begin to think entrepreneurially also aligns with Eship@RPI’s commitment to expanding and enhancing the region’s startup community.”
AT&T is proud to collaborate with these dynamic organizations to develop and support this innovative experience for these student as it further enhances our commitment to providing resources for STEM-related educational programming throughout the Capital Region,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T
Students from each of the four schools participating in the challenge—Sheridan Preparatory Academy in Albany, School 14 in Troy, Slingerlands Elementary in Bethlehem, and Castleton Elementary in Schodack—will work in teams to answer the question, “If you could change something in your home, school, or community, what would it be and how would you do it?” Once they have brainstormed their solution, teams must also identify the target market, manufacturing methods, and the sale and protection of their product.
Each of the teams will first pitch to a panel of teachers from their school, who will select the top three teams to compete in the live pitch final on Dec. 8. Team finalists will present their inventions and solutions before a panel of five judges comprised of representatives from AT&T, Recovery Sports Grill, Phillips Lytle, Eship@RPI, and the Small Business Development Center.
“AT&T is proud to collaborate with these dynamic organizations to develop and support this innovative experience for these student as it further enhances our commitment to providing resources for STEM-related educational programming throughout the Capital Region,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. “Our economy continues to transform at a robust pace—requiring a workforce with a focus on technological education and literacy—and STEM programs like this one are vital to ensure that the students of today are equipped to compete in the global innovation economy of tomorrow.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor, STEM focused initiatives are critical for our youth because much of the growth in the domestic and global economy will come from STEM-related jobs—a highly lucrative and competitive field—and which is an underlining motivation of establishing the Cool Kid IP Challenge powered by AT&T. It is estimated by 2020 there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs with more than half made up of computer and coding careers, underscoring the importance of providing the youth the tools and skills necessary to compete in this innovation economy.