Teachers had the opportunity to bring Little Launchers books to their classrooms through a curriculum offering at Economics Arkansas’ 5th annual Empowering Entrepreneurship Education (E3) conference.
Held on Tuesday, July 11th in Springdale, Arkansas, E3 brought K-12 educators from across the state together to reflect on entrepreneurship education in the state. Teachers were given the option to choose up to two Little Launchers books to bring back to their classrooms.
Along with offering the books to educators, Economics Arkansas invited author Erica Swallow to speak at the conference about the inspiration behind the series, the real kid entrepreneurs featured in each book, and how teachers can inspire students to be problem-solvers through the stories. The Little Launchers books feature four real-life kid entrepreneurs who founded and continue to manage their own flourishing businesses.
“The goal of E3 is to help teachers to understand the importance of and value of integrating economics into their curricula, says Rita Littrell, Director of the Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education, a center out of the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business that helps teachers with curriculum and instruction in economics, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship.
“Students need to know entrepreneurs and to know they can be one too if they want,” Littrell says. “Our economy is dynamic because of entrepreneurship. Arkansas, and northwest Arkansas, have benefited greatly from entrepreneurs. The Little Launchers books are a resource teachers can use to introduce entrepreneurs to the students.”
Conference organizers sponsored a special-run, Arkansas-produced paperback edition of Little Launchers books in order to offer them to teachers at E3. The series isn’t expected on shelves until later this year. Arkansas teachers, though, now have the books at their fingertips to educate students on the power of young creators and doers.
“I’m honored that Economics Arkansas sees potential in the books for showing kids that they can be anything they put their minds to,” says author Erica Swallow. “Illustrator Li Zeng and I created the books in Arkansas, with Arkansas students in mind as we wrote and illustrated. They were the first to test out the books, and we’re excited that they’re the first to read them in full form. We hope this is the start to inspiring the next generation of Natural State entrepreneurs.”
Along with their introduction to Little Launchers books, teachers also learned about the Lean Canvas, startup pitches, and venture capital from Startup Junkie Consulting Founding Principal Jeff Amerine, a staple contributor to the Arkansas entrepreneurship ecosystem. They also met four local entrepreneurs who spoke about their founding experiences and how those could apply in the classroom. Entrepreneurs included:
- Mike Thompson of Pedal Pops
- Rafael Rios of YeYos Mexican Restaurant
- Yoon Kim of Blogs for Brands
- Jessica McClard of Little Free Pantry
To make the entrepreneur-to-classroom link even stronger, organizers and economics instructors – including Jennifer Taunton (Master Economics Teacher, Springdale School District), Jeannette Bennette (Senior Economic Education Specialist, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Memphis Branch), Marie Bruno (Executive Director, Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation and Arkansas Capital Corporation), and Marsha Masters (Associate Director, Economics Arkansas) – led a session called “Entrepreneurship Activities for Your Class.”
E3 was hosted by Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation, Economics Arkansas, and the Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education.
Photos courtesy of Economics Arkansas