Tuesday, April 30, 2013

5 Things Your Young Business Person Needs to Know

The next session of TREP$, the exciting entrepreneurship program for 4th through 8th graders, is about to begin. The initiative is designed to serve as an inspiration for young people to think creatively and to put their ideas into action by creating a new business.

Over the last two sessions, we've all learned a lot about being a young entrepreneur. Here are some tips, from my own young businessperson, Caitie, who is co-creater of Spa Girls, a business that been successful at two TREP$ Marketplace events with their all-natural bath salts, lip balms and body sprays.

  1. Don't underestimate yourself. Never assume you aren't making something worthwhile. Try to make the very best product you can, so that you can wow your customers. Make a little more product than you think may sell, and trust that you will find a way to make the sale if you are creative and persistent.
  2. Don't undervalue your time. Making quality products or providing good services takes time and hard work. Remember that your time is valuable and important. Consider it when you set your prices.
  3. Don't reinvent the wheel. Make something new and special. Make something that is unique. Or put your special spin on something that exists. Whatever you do, make it yours. That makes it something the customer will want.
  4. Always wear a smile. Be professional. Wear your best clothes and don't eat stinky foods. You want to present yourself well to your customers. Customer service is very important. 
  5. Pricing is important. Charging too much or too little can mean you lose sales. Aim for the middle. See what other companies change for similar products or services. Be very aware of how much money you've invested, and plan to make back your expenses by the time you sell half your inventory.

Gwen, my 7 year old, also wanted to throw in a tip as well. She says, "Little sisters and brothers make great assistants!"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hot and cold reactions

As part of our recent Chemical Reactions Workshop, we explored endo- and exothermic reactions. Many chemical reactions create light, heat or other forms of energy. An exothermic reaction is one in which heat is made and released by the reaction. The term is obvious if you look at the roots: ex = out/outside, therm = heat. Therefore, endothermic (en = in/inside) is a reaction where energy (in the form of heat) must be pulled in for the reaction to occur.

Both are fun and easy to demonstrate. Grab the following supplies:

  • 2 Styrofoam cups (reusuable insulted cups are even better)
  • 1 thermometer
  • baking soda
  • citric acid (you can find it with the canning supplies in the grocery store)
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • a packet of yeast
For the first reaction, create a baking soda solution by adding baking soda to warm water one teaspoon at a time, stirring after each addition. Stop when no more will dissolve. Let the solution cool to room temperature, then place it in your cup. Use the thermometer to check the temperature. Add a teaspoon of citric acid. The solution will fizz and the temperature will drop. Keep adding citric acid and see how low you can make the temperature go. This is an endothermic reaction. Kids can put their fingers into the solution to feel the cold directly. Just wash your hands afterwards.

For the second reaction, we're going to generate heat through a decomposition reaction. Fill your cup with hydrogen peroxide. Check the temperature. Slowly add the yeast, a little at a time. Soon you'll have a big bubbling mess and spike in the solution temperature. Keep feeding the reaction. How high will the temperature go? Again, kids can touch the solution without fear. 

Older student may enjoy exploring the concepts of enthalpy and entropy as well. Have fun playing! Let me know what you discover!