INVENTURE Day is an innovative field day experience for middle school youth designed to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking and innovation by connecting youth to local entrepreneurs and community opportunities. Learners discover the definition and role of entrepreneurs, explore their passions and strengths, learn about the businesses and entrepreneurs in their community, and participate in activities that tap into their creative and team-building skills.
During the field day experience, youth are divided into teams of five and each is assigned a community mentor. This mentor guides the team through the product development and factory station lessons. Each team member self-selects a specific role, based on their unique strengths; these roles include Project Manager, Communications Director, Marketing Specialist, Financial Officer and Engineer/Designer.
Teams are given a widget. Without knowing the original function of the widget, teams are tasked with brainstorming a purpose for this item and creating a new product that can ultimately be built into a business. As teams build on their product idea, they rotate through the INVENTURE Factory to learn about finance, target market, and branding. They report back to their team headquarters (HQ) to put their ideas together. Each team HQ consists of tables covered in butcher paper and equipped with a variety of markers and sticky notes to inspire creative collaboration. Students sketch out their ideas directly on the table as they move through the stations. Their findings culminate in a short pitch about their newly created product idea. At the end of the day, teams present their ideas to local business professionals who act as potential investors. The winning team receives a trip to Innovation Campus.
Throughout the day, students are encouraged to interact on social media using a hashtag (#inventureday). As students and mentors post images, a digital wall is streaming a social media display using that hashtag. Students have the ability to share their experience, in real time, from their own perspective.
In 2016, 334 youth were reached by the program alongside 43 local entrepreneurs and community members. Participant surveys indicated that as a result of the program:
· 99% of youth developed non-cognitive entrepreneurial skills such as risk-taking, creativity, and analyzing.
· 80% of youth developed cognitive entrepreneurial skills such as product development and idea generation.
“The most important thing I learned from Inventure Day is no matter who you are working with, you can create an amazing product.” - INVENTURE Day participant.