On Saturday, June 16, 2018, eight teens culminated their 20-week Teen Maker Entrepreneur Program [TMEP] at Open Works – Baltimore with the opportunity to win a summer scholarship to Open Works and continue their ‘making’ efforts while building their business. This program was open to Baltimore City and County students ages 16 – 19. Of the 16 applicants chosen, four Baltimore Design School (BDS) students were accepted into the program. Each of the three BDS students competing in the ‘Open Tank’ competition, won scholarships.
The Teen Maker Entrepreneur program kicked off in February 2018 after students submitted applications and interest essays. Sixteen students were selected to participate in the program, which required that they treat the program like a job. Students were expected to be on time, miss no more than four days and meet each of the certification benchmarks set.
Students worked with instructors, makers and mentors to earn safety certifications in woods, sewing, laser cutting, electronics/robotics, 3D printing and graphic design. They learned programs like Tinkercad and the Adobe Suite, as well as how to use industrial sewing machines, woodshop tools, and basic electronics.
Each segment of the Teen Maker Entrepreneur program provided students the opportunity to learn through ‘making’. Projects included pajama pants, laser cut shadowboxes and pencil cups, a wooden gumball/candy dispenser, 3D printed pieces of their own design, a line-following robot, as well as their own vector logo and branding standard.
Ms. Theresa Montiel, Open Works Artist in Residence, invited guest instructors to come in to work with students on real world job skills, including: team building, product prototyping, public speaking, resume writing, marketing and financial management for small business. Adam Holofcener, the CEO of the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts [MDVLA], spoke with students about intellectual property, when and why they would hire a lawyer and basic business contracts. Teens learned valuable tools and the fundamentals required to establish their own business.
The final segment of this potentially life-changing program encouraged students to develop their business ideas, create marketing materials, coordinate a presentation and build a prototype if appropriate, in preparation for a ‘Shark Tank’-style competition. Students worked to effectively communicate their vision and present plans on how they would use the Open Works studio time to develop their ideas. The volunteer panel of distinguished judges was made up of Stephanie Chin – Assistant Director of Entrepreneurship in the MICA CareerDevelopment Center; Audrey Van de Castle, Shop Manager of the Stanley Black & Decker Maker Space in Towson; and William Redmond, President, National Society of Black Engineers.
Students were evaluated on multiple criteria, including their project goals, which varied from needing the scholarship to continue making, to the aspiration of bringing their products to market, or have their work displayed at Artscape. Each student presented their experience(s) and projects in sewing; woods; laser cutting; 3D printing and graphic design. Judges evaluated their professionalism; level of marketability (or “it” factor); and their passion for making. Students received additional points if they presented a resume, business cards, or other marketing materials.
Five of the eight competitors won summer scholarships based on the above criteria, and they were announced at the culmination of the presentations. Following the event, Duetsch Foundation (parent company of Open Works) COO, Mr. Neil Didriksen, who was among the audience members, was so moved by the student’s enthusiasm, he put together the “Didriksen Scholarship” which will award the same membership scholarship the other competitors received to the remaining three competitors.
A parent of one presenter was equally inspired by the presentations and commented:
“I was impressed that all of the kids wanted to come back to work on their future endeavors through Open Works…use the facility to work out their ideas. Those kids that were intent on their business and pursuing their dreams. The space is inviting and the builders [makers] and instructors were all thanked by the students, and it showed that the kids valued them. I would have loved this opportunity when I was that age.”
The Open Works team has been working diligently to procure grants so they can continue to offer programming that is accessible for all. They have grants slotted to continue this “Teen Maker” program starting this Fall through 2021; as the value of fostering the creativity and development of our youth is realized. If you are interested in learning more about Open Works and their youth programming, please visit https://www.openworksbmore.com/youth-family-classes/.
The Baltimore Design School is a 6 – 12 public school focused on educating our youth to be designers of the future by developing the whole student, fostering creativity, critical thinking and design skills and expanding the diversity of the design professions. BDS values our community partners such as Open Works, for empowering our youth and helping them to realize their potential.
For more information about the Baltimore Design School, visit www.baltimoredesignschool.com.
ABOUT BALTIMORE DESIGN SCHOOL
Baltimore Design School (BDS) is Maryland’s only school dedicated to preparing middle and high school students for careers in design, offering classes in the disciplines of Fashion Design, Architecture and Graphic Design. A combined middle and high school within Baltimore City Public Schools, it is one of a handful of public design schools in the country and the only one to incorporate middle school. It provides an innovative model in which design and creative problem-solving pervades and informs all aspects of the rigorous curriculum. BDS graduates will be primed to become designers and architects who see design as a way of living an ethical, productive, and rewarding life.
BDS utilizes a specific, design-focused curriculum, increases effectiveness of school leadership, leverages community resources, and provides operational flexibility and support. It is overseen by an independent Board of Directors.
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