Cody Ziegler’s Entrepreneurship class is creating new products and starting a business in the course of the semester. Ziegler is an advocate for project based learning–a style of teaching that allows kids to solve real-world problems with teacher guidance, opposed to lectures and tests, this entrepreneurship class is no different.
“I can’t control the outcome, but there will be results. Some will succeed, some will ‘fail’, but all will learn through choice versus me telling them what to do,” Ziegler said.
Ziegler believes that project based learning is the way of the future. He says it teaches real-world problem solving, leadership, accountability and the ability to self direct.
“There are some students who are grabbing onto the unknown, opposed to others who are so used to ‘playing’ school. There’s a hurdle to jump over–actually going out and succeeding. That means some students are going to jump the gun, through selling and designing, to be successful,” Ziegler said.
The grading system has to do with goals set by the students and the accountability of completing these goals.
“I give them the framework they need to learn while giving them the freedom to crete as an individual,” Ziegler said.
Sophomore Jenna Zydlo is using this class to her advantage. Zydlo’s business idea combines her artistic talents and company skills. She creates custom phone cases using her knack for painting.
“Entrepreneurship allows me to combine something I love doing, while making money at the same time. It’s really great for students that are hard workers,” Zydlo said.
Students performed of research to make the process of creation easier. They learn about primary research, secondary research and keep a journal of their experiences with trial and error to track their progress. All this information will be used in the semester showcase, where students will hopefully have a real product and revenue data.
Zydlo researched things like how much paint, brushes, varnish and the average phone case costs to give her an idea for how much she should charge for things and build her cost structure. She also seeked people’s opinions on how much the product should go for.
“I sent out a poll on how much people would pay for the product. Most people would pay $25 just for the artwork. That makes me nervous, because I could profit so easily. I would feel bad because I have the opportunity to cheat people because this business costs me little to nothing because I already have all the supplies I need,” Zydlo said.
In Zydlo’s business, decorated phone cases can be bought, or customers can customize their phone case they already own. Personalization is also a part of the cost.
“I could do something like a sun, which is just a circle and a couple lines. That shouldn’t cost much. But I could also do something like the tarot card, which is extremely complex and ornate,” Zydlo said.
Ziegler’s goal is for the students to be able to take this product idea and use it in his other classes like marketing and business management. Ziegler believes if they continue on the business class pathway, it will eliminate busy work.
“If the student takes another class of mine, it shows they want to pursue it, so they’ve already spent time doing some of the smaller things,” Ziegler said.
Kids in this class also learn a lot about soft skills and hard skills. Not only do they learn the actual skills, but they are asked to reflect on them.
“I want you to own the educational journey. If you’re directing where you want to go, you’ll get more out of it,” Ziegler said.