The inaugural year of integrating INCubatoredu curriculum into Frisco ISD’s entrepreneurship course has students thriving at Lone Star, Centennial, Heritage and Frisco high schools.
INCubatoredu provides curriculum, resources and training to support the entrepreneurship course, which is offered at all FISD high schools for students in grades 10-12. INCubatoredu also provides a framework for increased business and community involvement to help deepen students’ learning.
Through the curriculum, students analyze a problem and invent a solution through a product of their creation. At the end of the year, they will pitch their product to investors in hope that they will get the funding to turn their business plan into reality.
“It creates additional opportunities for students to connect with business and industry professionals who are passionate about what they do and want to share that knowledge with students,” said Dr. Clarence Williams, managing director of secondary schools. “Students also learn ‘soft skills’ that help make them future ready, such as public speaking, listening and working collaboratively.”
Each student started the school year by interviewing 10 people to learn about the problems they face. These problems led to brainstorming sessions and eventually product ideas linked to a specific customer base.
“It was less about finding a problem, more about finding a solution,” said an INCubatoredu student.
“We had to change our viewpoint,” added another student.
Students are actively working on solutions related to everything from washable foot insoles to a social app to help students make friends at school.
“It’s not easy,” another student said. “We have fine-tuned our product over time. It turned out that our original product was already a thing.”
Students sit in teams of five at six large collaborative desks. Along the wall, next to each desk, is a TV positioned so that students can connect their Chromebook to project their work on the screen. It looks like no other classroom on campus.
The class format is also like no other. Each INCubatoredu class is supported by community partners as coaches or mentors. Frisco ISD has a number of coaches around the District who guide students via lectures and activities in their area of expertise. Each team also has one mentor to guide them through their whole project.
Sarah Jones, a Frisco realtor, recently visited the Heritage class as a coach to talk about marketing strategies.
“I enjoy staying connected with the Frisco community and giving back to the District,” Jones said. “I am extremely impressed with the hands-on learning; the students are fortunate to be part of in the INCubatoredu program.”
The collaborative nature of the class has impacted the students as individuals. When they walked into the class at the beginning of the year, they did not know each other. However, midway in the year students interrupt each other and finish each other sentences, nodding encouragingly at their teammates.
“It started out as a self thing. Then all of a sudden one day it just became a group thing,” said one student. “We each have different strengths and experiences; we lean on each other.”
“This class will be useful for all of us in the future,” said Peyton Garza, an INCubatoredu student at Heritage. “This isn't just another class; this is where we get hands-on experience.”
The District is currently in need of 40 mentors to share their time and talent with the student teams. Local entrepreneurs and business professionals interested in sharing expertise can obtain more information or apply as volunteers by contacting Allison Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 469.633.6864.
Individuals and businesses can make a tax-deductible donation through the Frisco Education Foundation by designating a gift to INCubatoredu. The donation will support the program and make a difference for each student team that will need seed money to get its product or service off the ground.