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Presently, in Canada many new business start-ups are derived from innovations and applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Despite this reality, innovation and entrepreneurship are not well understood as teachable topics and becoming an entrepreneur is still not perceived as an obvious career option for youth in Canada.
The science and technology classroom provides an excellent environment to introduce the topic of innovation and entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial thinking skills have many similarities with the skills of inquiry and problem-solving that are taught and reinforced in the science and technology classroom.
This CurioCity Educators’ Guide to Innovation & Entrepreneurship is intended to offer a variety of teaching ideas and connections to useful resources to help build and practice entrepreneurial thinking skills with your students and create an awareness of the potential for entrepreneurship in their futures.
Key Ideas encompassed within this resource collection include:
- A foundation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) provides a strong base for developing entrepreneurial skills and a launching platform for aspiring entrepreneurs
- Becoming an entrepreneur is a career option for students with knowledge of STEM
- Many new products and business start-up ventures are based on products and process that are derived from and/or rely on STEM knowledge and the skill-sets learned through active involvement in STEM fields
- Canada has many successful entrepreneurs with STEM backgrounds
- Innovation and entrepreneurship have always been important in Canada and will continue to be important in Canada’s future
Introduction to Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Canada has always benefited from innovators and entrepreneurs – they’ve helped to build our country and develop its economic power. Canada needs entrepreneurs to ensure future prosperity. Recent job market trends within Canada have shown that the number of public sector and private sector paid jobs are decreasing. During challenging economic times Canadian’s innovative thinking shines through and entrepreneurship accounts for the creation of many new jobs. The reality is that Canada needs even more entrepreneurs – and innovative thinkers. There are great opportunities for students who have a background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to become the entrepreneurs of the future. Worldwide, 1.3 billion people are self-employed as entrepreneurs, and within large and small companies entrepreneurs are responsible for driving innovation, so it is essential that Canadian students should have this career option on their radar!
Incorporating Innovation & Entrepreneurial Thinking in the Science and Technology Classroom:
Canada is a land of opportunity. While most students realize that there are diverse career options available for them, too few think about creating their own opportunities through entrepreneurship Focused learning expectations about entrepreneurship are typically included in the curriculum for business studies or specialized entrepreneurship courses, but these specialized courses are not widely available across Canada and are not taken by the majority of students. So how are students to become aware of entrepreneurship and develop the thinking skills associated with being an entrepreneur?
Using this Educator Guide to Explore Entrepreneurship
This guide is designed to:
- provide educators with flexibility to use only those portions which align most closely with their curriculum and classroom situation;
- identify general curricular connections between the content contained in the Entrepreneurial Thinking learning activities and supporting resources and high school curricula;
- identify connections to relevant Science, Technology, Society and the Environment (STSE) and Nature of Science (NOS) issues;
- suggest follow-up actions and projects in which students may engage to develop a deeper understanding of the topics addressed within the Entrepreneurial Thinking learning activities;
- provide information about careers connected to innovation and entrepreneurship;
- introduce young Canadian entrepreneurs (as role models) and their stories through profile videos; and
- support educators’ efforts to provide students with experiences that promote 21st century learning skills (e.g. critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity).
Engaging Students with Entrepreneurial Thinking Tools:
The following series of learning strategies developed by MaRS Discovery District (and accessible on the Innovation & Entrepreneurship page of CurioCity) can be used to introduce and develop entrepreneurial thinking skills with your students. The resources do not need to be used in their entirety. You may select the pieces that best fit your curriculum needs. The Making Connections section below outlines a number of real-world issues that you can use as a context for applying the Entrepreneurial Thinking Tools.
Tools for Getting Started
- Personal Branding In Your Classroom (PDF)
A brand is a succinct, highly creative way of expressing an identity. In this activity, students learn about common brand types and practice clearly communicating their values and goals to develop a personal brand and help identify potential collaborators.
- Design Thinking In your Classroom (PDF)
Design thinking is a mindset and a methodology used to better understand problems and implement creative solutions. This collaborative activity introduces a process commonly used by design teams as they generate ideas and solve problems.
- SWOT in Your Classroom (PDF)
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT diagram can be used to structure activities that involve brainstorming and idea assessment, goal-setting, or peer/self-assessment.
Tools for Research & Discovery
- Testing Initial Ideas with Customer Discovery in Your Classroom (PDF)
Customer discovery is a process by which entrepreneurs come to understand people’s reactions to their ideas. This activity demonstrates how easy it is to make assumptions in our research, and provides helpful techniques to guard against doing so.
- Applying Research by Pivoting in Your Classroom (PDF)
The term “pivot” in entrepreneurial thinking practice describes a change in strategy without a change in vision. This activity reinforces the importance of building the ability to pivot directly into the start of a project.
Tools for Idea Development
- Rapid Prototyping in Your Classroom (PDF)
Prototyping is the process of giving an idea a physical form so that it can be tested and improved. This activity demonstrates the process and value of the rapid prototyping process, and engages students in the design of their learning environment.
- Idea Canvases in Your Classroom (PDF)
An idea canvas is a diagram that is used to design the strategy needed to execute an idea. Use an idea canvas to structure brainstorming sessions, particularly in the early stages of group projects.
Tools for Persuasive Communicating
- Pitches in your Classroom (PDF)
A pitch is a creative argument that encourages a particular audience to do something. More than a tool for selling products, a pitch can be used to encourage individuals or groups to rethink an issue, adopt a new policy, or invest their time in something. Students can use this 3 step process to structure thesis statements, presentations, debates, and any other work that requires them to present arguments.
- Slide Decks in Your Classroom (PDF)
An idea canvas is a diagram that is used to design the strategy needed to execute an idea. Use an idea canvas to structure brainstorming sessions, particularly in the early stages of group projects.
Tools for Identifying Next Steps
- Measuring SROI in Your Classroom (PDF)
Social Return on Investment (SROI) is a measurement of the social value generated by a project or organization. This activity introduces a SROI chart and encourages students to consider the multiple ways they can both receive and generate value through a project or unit. This approach can be applied to introduce new STEM projects and units to your students.
- Exploring Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (PDF)
Entrepreneurial ecosystems are networks of programs and organizations that support entrepreneurs. This resource provides additional connections for you and your students to explore more entrepreneurship resources and entrepreneurial opportunities in your region.
Using Entrepreneurial Thinking Tools to Explore Real-World Issues:
Entrepreneurial Thinking is a mindset and learning style propelled by the desire to solve problems and create. It is common to all innovators, whether they are the founder of a company, a freelancer, an artist or an individual who effects positive change from within someone else's organization.
- MaRS Discovery District
Entrepreneurial thinking is about asking questions, identifying problems and turning problems into opportunities. The best way to engage students in any type of learning is to make the learning relevant and authentic. An excellent way to introduce and practice entrepreneurial thinking skills in the classroom is to apply these skills in addressing “real-world” problems and issues.
The following real-world problems need creative solutions and they also have strong connections to solutions that will be derived from understandings in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These problems are also available as a printable BLM for use as a student handout.
Challenge: Improve Access to Clean Water
How can you improve the treatment of water and expand access to water treatment to ensure all Canadian communities have access to clean water?
The largest source of pollution in Canadian waters is from municipal waste-water discharges. Waste water is composed of sanitary sewage and storm water. It can contain grit, debris, suspended solids, disease-causing pathogens, decaying organic wastes, nutrients and about 200 identified chemicals. Waste-water treatment offers a solution to this problem and has been improving in Canada over the past 30 years. However, despite improvements in water treatment, the levels of phosphorus and nitrogen discharged into the environment continue to be a critical water issue in Canada. Sewage treatment also varies greatly across Canada causing concerns for the environment and human health. Apply your entrepreneurial thinking strategies to come up with creative solutions.
Challenge: Reduce used batteries in landfill
How can we reduce the amount of used batteries that end up in landfills?
Canadians love technology – from tablets to smart phones, the average teenager owns multiple devices. Unfortunately, a growing problem in the world is how we dispose of spent batteries and the devices themselves. Leaving batteries in landfills causes leaching of chemicals into the soil and can cause problems with water tables. In Canada alone, the sale of consumer batteries is expected to increase from 671 million units (weighing an estimated 17,272 tonnes) in 2007 to 745 million units (weighing an estimated 19,122 tonnes) by 2015. Do you think battery sales will continue to grow at this pace? While battery recycling programs are being developed and there is capacity at smelting operations for recycling, actual recycling rates are dismal – only about 5% in Ontario. How can more batteries be put into recycling streams more efficiently? Are there better options to battery power and better types of batteries that can be used in these devices? What innovations in science and technology could help provide solutions to this growing problem? Apply your entrepreneurial thinking strategies. What creative solutions can you come up with?
Challenge: Reduce obesity and diabetes in youth
What can be done to stop the increasing incidence of obesity and diabetes in young people?
Childhood obesity is on the rise in Canada and more and more people are developing diabetes at a younger age. In a quote from the 2008 State of Public Health, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada stated that, “there is a growing prevalence of obesity and diabetes in Canada that – if unchecked – may open the door to the possibility that this generation of children may be the first in Canada to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents”. Do you want you want to become part of this ominous statistic? Apply your entrepreneurial thinking strategies. What creative solutions can you come up with?
Engaging Students with Innovation & Entrepreneurship Content through Discussion Starters
Use discussion starters to come up with your own challenges: The topic of innovation & entrepreneurship can provide rich opportunities to discuss issues that relate science and technology to society and the environment (STSE), ethical issues, and the nature of science (NoS) and nature of technology.
Relating Science and Technology to Society and the Environment
- What issues and problems in society today might benefit from the creative solutions developed by entrepreneurs?
- Do you think it is important to have entrepreneurs in your local region, province or in Canada? Explain.
- How do entrepreneurs and new businesses impact on your community? A region of Canada? The country as a whole?
Nature of Science/Nature of Technology
- How does research and innovation in science and technology support entrepreneurship?
- How does collaboration feature in the development of new products?
- What are the benefits of collaboration between scientists, inventors, technologists and entrepreneurs?
Connecting and Relating
- Can you imagine yourself as an entrepreneur? Are you passionate about something? How might you turn that interest and passion into a marketable product?
- To what extent are you influenced by brands? What makes you interested in a particular brand? Explain.
- Have any new or innovative products impacted on your life or the life of someone in your family? Which ones and how?
Extend the Learning
Extending Student Learning with Projects
You may wish to provide opportunities for students to engage in independent projects, conduct research or inquiries into topics related to innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and entrepreneurship. Such activities allow students to engage with topics which are of interest to them, while participating in authentic activities and assessments that promote the development of innovation and entrepreneurship understandings and entrepreneurial thinking skills. Several potential project/research/inquiry topic suggestions follow.
- Brand It – Pitch It!: Have students take their own technology design projects further by creating a brand for their product and doing a product pitch.
- Innovating My School: Have students use entrepreneurial thinking skills to design and develop a novel school event and/or a school fundraiser.
- Innovation Movers and Shakers: Have students research, evaluate and report on how Canada’s universities, colleges, and research institutions contribute to a culture of innovation and the development of new technologies and new products.
- Exploring Trends in Innovation: Have students research and explore an innovation or cutting-edge research in science, technology or engineering and, based on their research, make predictions about new products and processes that could be available in the future.
- Why Innovate? Have students investigate the factors that motivate companies to conduct product research, and compare the many ways and means that innovation occurs and new discoveries are made.
- New and Improved: Have students survey a common, everyday product or technology to find examples of incremental innovations (small, additive innovations) that have occurred in that product or technology over time. Students can create a video or multimedia presentation that demonstrates the impact of incremental innovation. The products or technologies explored can relate to the science or technology class that is being taught. For example, explore over-the-counter medication innovations in a biology or biotechnology class, or engine innovations in a transportation technology class or evolving models of smart phones in physics class.
- Innovation through Collaboration: Have students explore how modern information technologies have allowed for more effective entrepreneurial collaborations. Students can create a short documentary video or another form of presentation outlining the trends in entrepreneurial collaborations. The presentation could feature a particular company that is effectively collaborating using technology.
- Dynamic Innovation: Have students use an innovation timeline to identify a topic to explore that demonstrates the dynamic nature of scientific understanding, knowledge and innovation. Students can create a presentation that clearly illuminates the dynamism of research and innovation as it relates to the development of new products and technologies. Some examples of innovation timelines can be found on CurioCity, such as the Biotechnology, Canadian Innovations in Pharmaceuticals or the Canadian Contributions to Sky Science timelines.
Connecting to Other Content on CurioCity
Content introduced in the CurioCity Educators’ Guide to Innovation & Entrepreneurship can be explored in more depth through the following content on CurioCity. New content is being continually added to the Innovation & Entrepreneurship section on CurioCity which may not appear in this guide.
Career and Research Profiles
Students can read profiles of real entrepreneurial thinkers, entrepreneurs and business people, some of which include:
Students can view these career video profiles. This section is being expanded to include more Canadian entrepreneurs.
Other CurioCity Content: Organized by innovation & entrepreneurship sub-topics
Connecting Innovation & Entrepreneurship to Curriculum:
This Innovation & Entrepreneurship learning resource is designed to have wide application for use in high school science and technology classrooms and in a variety of other courses from Grade 8 - 12. The table below outlines specific curriculum connections for the province of Ontario.
Ontario Curriculum Connections
| Subject/Grade Level
|| Curriculum Key Concept Links
Grade 9 – 12 Sciences
Scientific Investigation Skills and Career Exploration
Nature of Science and Technology
Science, Technology, Society, and the Environment (STSE)
Scientific and Technological Skills and Attitudes
Grade 9 -12 Technology
Professional Practice and Career Opportunities strand: develop essential skills and work habits valued in the sector; explore career opportunities;
Grade 9 or 10 Introduction to Business (BBI1O, BBI2O)
Entrepreneurship Strand: characteristics and skills associated with successful entrepreneurs; contributions of Canadian entrepreneurs;
invention and innovation in entrepreneurship; Canadian innovations; self-analysis of entrepreneurial strengths and interests; needs, wants, and problems as entrepreneurial opportunities; innovation changes over time;
Grade 10 Career Studies (GLC2O)
Exploration of Opportunities Strand: Identifying Trends and Opportunities
Grade 10 Discovering the Workplace (GLD2O)
Exploration of Opportunities strand: Researching Information; Exploring Learning and Work Opportunities; characteristics and skills
required for self-employment, including entrepreneurship;
Grade 11 Entrepreneurship: The Venture, (BDI3C), College Preparation
All strands: Enterprising People and Entrepreneurs, Ideas and Opportunities for New Ventures, The Benefits of a Venture Plan, Developing and Completing a Venture Plan
Grade 11 Entrepreneurship: The Enterprising Person (BDP3O), Open
All strands: The Changing Nature of the Workplace, Entrepreneurship and the Enterprising Employee, Enterprising Skills, The Enterprising Experience: Planning and Organizing an Event
Marketing: Goods, Services, Events, Grade 11 (BMI3C)
Strands: Marketing Fundamentals, The Marketing Mix, Trends in Marketing
Marketing: Retail and Service, Grade 11 (BMX3E)
Strand: Marketing Fundamentals
Grade 11 Designing your Future (GWL3O)
Exploration of Opportunities strand: Opportunities, Trends, The Workplace
Grade 11 Leadership and Peer Support (GPP3O)
Exploration of Opportunities strand: Assessing Options, Developing a Plan, Exploring Careers
Grade 12 Entrepreneurship: Venture Planning in an Electronic Age (BDV4C)
Strands: The Venture Concept, Targeting Customers
Grade 12 Navigating the Workplace (GLN4O)
Exploration of Opportunities strand: Researching Information, Exploring Learning and Work Opportunities
International Business Essentials, Grade 12 (BBB4E)
International Careers and Skills strand
Business Leadership: Management Fundamentals, Grade 12 (BOH4M)
Planning and Controlling strand: the importance of planning, planning tools and techniques; SWOT analysis
Intermediate Social Studies
Canadian contributions – STEM inventors, innovators and influential entrepreneurs
Intermediate Canadian History (1900 - present)
Canadian contributions - STEM inventors, innovators and influential entrepreneurs
Additional Resources to Explore
Ontario employment programs and tools to help build skills, start a business, or find work for people under 30.
Through the Summer Company Program Ontario students between 15 and 29 may be eligible to receive start-up money to kick-off a new summer business and advice and mentorship from local business leaders to help get the business up and running.
The Young Entrepreneurs, Make Your Pitch competition invites high school students in Ontario to pitch their business ideas in a two-minute video.
Future Entrepreneurs: teachers' guide
This Ontario curriculum guide is for teachers of students in grades 7 to 10. It uses real-life stories of successful entrepreneurs to introduce entrepreneurial thinking and skills.
Business Plan Wizard
Business Plan Wizard is a free online tool designed for secondary school students, teachers and other users that prepares you to write a business plan.
Futurepreneur is a national, non-pro?t organization that provides ?nancing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39.
CIPO (the Canadian Intellectual Properties Office)
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), a special operating agency of Industry Canada, is responsible for administering Canada's system of intellectual property (IP) rights, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs; and integrated circuit topographies.
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