In keeping with our desire to support Colin transitioning into his youth years, another opportunity arose to mentor his growth. Colin appeared in the kitchen after school yesterday, excited about an upcoming project. The students in his class were being given a carte blanche to design and build anything they want. Colin had two projects in mind: Makey Makey (an electronic invention tool that connects objects to computer programming) or Cardboard creations (using motors and other trinkets to build a working game). His enthusiasm gleaned in his eyes and I was catching his excitement. I talk all the time about design thinking and project based learning to the point that all three boys feel as though they are missing out. But then Colin hesitated. "The only thing is, we have to provide the materials. And it's pretty expensive."
I was impressed that Colin seems to really be internalizing the concept of money, spending and budgets. These are skills that are going to be really important to have a good handle on when he leaves home (parenting win!) He sheepishly said the Makey Makey kit runs between $50 to $75 dollars, and the motor and parts for the other project would also run a high cost.
In the split second of parenting think time that I had, these thoughts raced through my head:
That's a lot of money.
I really want him to have the chance to do this project.
It's great for him to work in design thinking and building.
That's a lot of money.
It's for school, we can cover that.
That's a lot of money for one project.
I don't want the money issue to prevent him from participating.
Maybe...there's a learning opportunity here...
After assimilating all this, here's what I proposed to Colin:
"In the business world, you can get people called investors to fund your projects. But in order to get the money you have to submit a proposal. So I'll send along a proposal template where you can outline your vision of the project, why it's a good project, what you think it will cost, where you will buy materials, and what the timeline for working on it will be. Then we will meet together and you can deliver a prepared "pitch" to sell us your idea."
He jumped on board right away. I have a feeling it might be because he really thought it would be a flat out "no" when he told me how much it was going to cost.
So this morning I sent an email:
I have attached a Word document that you can fill in for your design project proposal. You have a meeting with your potential investors (Mom and Dad) Saturday at 1pm. Please bring the completed proposal to that meeting and be prepared to “pitch” (tell us about) your project. Enthusiasm and knowledge will be very important to the success of your pitch in securing the money you need.
Mom and Dad.
If he puts the work in, I'm hoping this will be a really good chance to learn a business skill that will serve him in the future. I know I'll have to fight the urge to give him the money right away. If there are some holes in the proposal I hope to provide some feedback that he can revise before we "sign the contract" between designer and investor. In the end, however, I think it's a great little experience for him.