Science and Entrepreneurship Exchange

We’re working on our web site — until it’s launched, please take a look through some photos of SEE in action, below. Once you see SEE in action, you’ll be hooked — just like the students are. 

What if, by the time you graduated eighth grade, you had:

-  Conceived, started and run multiple startups?

-  Worked directly with and were mentored by dozens of adults, from a dozen different professions?

-  Visited ad agencies, distribution centers, advanced manufacturing facilities, engineering labs, product development companies, and more?

-  Worked with college students and professors to design and manufacture your own original products?

-  Learned about business ethics, problem solving, how to work in teams, and how to present confidently?

-  Learned the fundamentals of investment, by pitching your ideas and plans to real investors?

-  Sold with the power of conviction that comes from the empowerment and ownership of the business you founded?

-  Came to understand that invention and manufacturing were passions you could pursue in high school and beyond?

-  Experienced the joy and promise of constructive failure, as it leads you to ultimate success?

The Science and Entrepreneurship Exchange (SEE) will inspire and educate Chicago students to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, innovators and engineers, through inspirational and practical hands-on business and product development experiences.

With a focus on experiential learning in entrepreneurship and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), SEE’s approach incorporates unique real-world startup and engineering projects into existing curriculum in grades 1 - 8, engaging students with expert mentors and collaborators from universities (Northwestern University is a founding partner) and business at key inflection points. By starting their own businesses, and designing, manufacturing and selling real products, students will get an immersive and sustained education in the power and promise of entrepreneurship and engineering, and reinforcement for their math and science education.

Ultimately, SEE will create more passionate and skilled teachers and university/elementary students, who will have a deeper understanding of (and relationship with) Chicago’s entrepreneurial and advanced manufacturing community — ultimately helping drive the future growth of Chicago’s ecosystem. Contact us at contact@see-chicago.com .

- Middle School Students are Preparing their Pitches: WGN Chicago http://wgnradio.com/2013/04/29/middle-school-kids-are-preparing-their-pitches/?pmsfr=true

- Design Thinking Can Change Education

http://techli.com/dig8

- Fifth-Graders with a Startup Business? You Betcha http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130123/lakeview/fifth-graders-with-start-up-business-you-betcha

Five teams of SEE 8th graders worked hard to concept, research, design and build business cases for a home organization product, all focused on the big event — pitching their products to a review panel. One product would be chosen for Kickstarter/go-to-market. The panel included Joe Born, noted Chicago inventor; Geoff Trukenbrod, CFO, Obama for America; Brian Bannon, Commissioner of Chicago Public Libraries; April Lane, Executive Director of Catapult; Mark Harris, President and CEO of the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition; Jim Nelson, VP, Illinois Manufacturing Association; Gavin Campbell, Founder/Managing Partner Steelbridge Capital; Robert Nathan, CEO, LoadDelivered; Mike Beltran, Professor, Northwestern University; Sam Schwartz, NU student/SEE mentor; and Caroline Hartel, NU student/SEE mentor.

Geoff Trukenbrod, CFO of the Obama campaign, and Michael Slaby, CIO of the Obama campaign, give Northwestern SEE mentors a tour of 1871. SEE strives to expose and connect both elementary and university students to the rich current of entrepreneurism and invention in Chicago — many of our best and brightest leave for the coasts, partially because there is no mechanism to attach them and network them into Chicago before graduation.

Geoff Trukenbrod, CFO of the Obama campaign, and Michael Slaby, CIO of the Obama campaign, give Northwestern SEE mentors a tour of 1871. SEE strives to expose and connect both elementary and university students to the rich current of entrepreneurism and invention in Chicago — many of our best and brightest leave for the coasts, partially because there is no mechanism to attach them and network them into Chicago before graduation.

SEE is a real-world, immersive invention and startup experience — and it’s as much out of the classroom as in. In the 5th grade, it includes creating and delivering a persuasive pitch for investors. Mike Beltran, Northwestern University professor and SEE co-founder, with April Lane, Catapult executive Director, before the 5th grade investor pitch to a group of investors and advisors.

SEE is a real-world, immersive invention and startup experience — and it’s as much out of the classroom as in. In the 5th grade, it includes creating and delivering a persuasive pitch for investors. Mike Beltran, Northwestern University professor and SEE co-founder, with April Lane, Catapult executive Director, before the 5th grade investor pitch to a group of investors and advisors.

Chicago inventor Joe Born delivers one of four “Failure Presentations”. By hearing first-hand that failure can be constructive (and is really just what most adults call “experience”), students become less risk-averse and more confident in their ability to take positive learning from any past experience, and apply it to present and future problems.

Chicago inventor Joe Born delivers one of four “Failure Presentations”. By hearing first-hand that failure can be constructive (and is really just what most adults call “experience”), students become less risk-averse and more confident in their ability to take positive learning from any past experience, and apply it to present and future problems.

Some of the panelists watch the pitch — L to R, Devin Gross, CEO, Emmi Solutions; Ankur Gupta, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery, Michael Slaby, Chief Innovation Officer, Obama campaign 2012; Mark Anderson, CPL; Yolande Wilburn, CPL.

Some of the panelists watch the pitch — L to R, Devin Gross, CEO, Emmi Solutions; Ankur Gupta, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery, Michael Slaby, Chief Innovation Officer, Obama campaign 2012; Mark Anderson, CPL; Yolande Wilburn, CPL.

Most entrepreneurs will tell you that pitching is not the highlight of their day. Not the case for young kids, who couldn’t wait to get their shot. 

Most entrepreneurs will tell you that pitching is not the highlight of their day. Not the case for young kids, who couldn’t wait to get their shot. 

Some early results from the SEE pilot

 A sampling of our student surveying results:

100% of students said they would recommend SEE to friends.

100% of Northwestern student mentors involved in the product design pilot responded “yes” to the question: “Do you feel more strongly about improving science/engineering education in elementary schools as a result of your experience?”

Q: How much did you know about designing and making products before (SEE)?  A: Nothing 22% A little 56% A lot 22%

Q: How much do you know about designing and making products now that you’ve been through (SEE)? A: Nothing 0% A little 22% A lot 78%

70% of SEE students told their parents of an increased desire to go to college.

83% of SEE students said they have a greater desire to be an engineer someday after participating in SEE (the other 17% already wanted to be engineers!).

100% of parents whose children participated want their children to participate in similar programs next year.

A 5th grade students holds a prototype of their desk organizer product, designed and built in partnership with Northwestern U, as the team prepares to deliver their investor pitch to the panel at Catapult. After deliberation, the investors gave the thumbs-up and it was time to move into marketing and production.

A 5th grade students holds a prototype of their desk organizer product, designed and built in partnership with Northwestern U, as the team prepares to deliver their investor pitch to the panel at Catapult. After deliberation, the investors gave the thumbs-up and it was time to move into marketing and production.

Devin Gross, Emmi Solutions CEO, delivers one of four “Failure Presentations”, where Chicago entrepreneurs talk to kids about an experience that at the time seemed catastrophic, but turned out to be constructive.

Devin Gross, Emmi Solutions CEO, delivers one of four “Failure Presentations”, where Chicago entrepreneurs talk to kids about an experience that at the time seemed catastrophic, but turned out to be constructive.

Some of the (literally) hundreds of product ideas the students came up with, alongside their mentors — how often can you get 8th graders to wrap the room in original ideas? During SEE/DIG8, students learn to turn off their fear of getting the wrong answer, and work together to solve problems through invention and design.

Some of the (literally) hundreds of product ideas the students came up with, alongside their mentors — how often can you get 8th graders to wrap the room in original ideas? During SEE/DIG8, students learn to turn off their fear of getting the wrong answer, and work together to solve problems through invention and design.

Students write their ideas on post-it notes, each post-it representing one idea for the new product they’re designing. The math worked out this way: 40 students + pro and university mentors + the opportunity to engage their creativity and innovative power = 600 post it notes/ideas. Without the SEE/DIG8 program and mentors, the total would have been zero. 

Students write their ideas on post-it notes, each post-it representing one idea for the new product they’re designing. The math worked out this way: 40 students + pro and university mentors + the opportunity to engage their creativity and innovative power = 600 post it notes/ideas. Without the SEE/DIG8 program and mentors, the total would have been zero. 

Students work in teams and individually to create new concepts and ideas for their products, based on their market research and guidance from their Northwestern University and Beyond Design mentors. 

Students work in teams and individually to create new concepts and ideas for their products, based on their market research and guidance from their Northwestern University and Beyond Design mentors. 

Beyond Design mentors work with students to generate ideas for the 8th grade product development and marketing program, called dig8 (d=design, i=innovate, g=grow). Grade 1=dig1, grade 2=dig2, etc. . SEE intends to create a dig program/curriculum for every grade level - starting in 1st grade with dig1, and building on entrepreneurial and STEM skills through dig8 - which schools can adopt a la carte. 

Beyond Design mentors work with students to generate ideas for the 8th grade product development and marketing program, called dig8 (d=design, i=innovate, g=grow). Grade 1=dig1, grade 2=dig2, etc. . SEE intends to create a dig program/curriculum for every grade level - starting in 1st grade with dig1, and building on entrepreneurial and STEM skills through dig8 - which schools can adopt a la carte.