Entrepreneurship: Creating Products and Systems That Meet the Needs of Your Clients

By Maggie Nelms, January 25, 2010

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • Design for the Other 90%

Subject Area

  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

800 minutes for classroom activities


What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? What are the risks involved? Why would someone want to be an entrepreneur rather than working for someone else? All of these questions will be answered as we learn more about the steps that an entrepreneur takes to find a need in the market that has not been met and then to create a solution to this problem so that people around the world will have a product, system, or service which will make their lives easier in some way.

There are problems in each of our daily lives. To be a problem solver is to be an expert social scientist as this requires keen observation to detail, a creative mindset, and an awareness of the culture at hand. Rather than studying about famous inventors, economists, and geographers, students face real world tasks as social studies comes alive for them in this design-based project which requires them to produce real world solutions.

This lesson engages students in the design process because there is a challenge that they can apply directly to their lives. Since students decide in which direction they want to go, they take ownership of the task and stay engaged as they work through the challenge of the design process. This project becomes so real for them that many of them want to take their ideas and pursue them in the real world once the project is finished.

National Standards


Standard 1.  Understands that scarcity of productive resources requires choices that generate opportunity costs

Standard 4.  Understands basic features of market structures and exchanges

Business Education

Standard 15.  Knows unique characteristics of an entrepreneur

Standard 17.  Understands that cultural difference, export/import opportunities, and current trends in a global marketplace can affect an entrepreneurial venture

Standard 18. Understands how ethics, government, and different forms of business ownership affect the entrepreneurial venture

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts Standards Writing 

Grade 6-8

Production and Distribution of Writing:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

English Language Arts Standards: Speaking and Listening

Grade 6-8

Comprehension and Collaboration:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1.A Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 8 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)


Students will be able to:

  • identify their clients’ needs and create products or systems that meet those needs
  • critique their peers’ products and systems based on how well they meet their clients’ needs, how large of an audience they reach, and how affordable the product/system is
  • work with time and money constraints to achieve the task at hand
  • experience the risks that are very real for entrepreneurs as they design their products/systems
  • identify the most creative and wild ideas, as well as consider their audience while they work through a process that teaches them critical thinking and problem solving skills, as they will need in the real world
  • take constructive criticism with gratitude and contemplate multiple perspectives on one single issue as they hear from entrepreneurs and designers on a panel
  • ask specific questions about their peers’ solutions in a way that is clear, direct, and polite, while still bringing up weaknesses and/or strengths that they see
  • work as a team to define problems, solutions, create sketches, prototypes, and answer panelists’ and peers’ questions in a diplomatic way
  • interview potential clients to determine if problems they have identified are truly problems that others have
  • accurately search the internet with specific search terms to confirm that solutions for their identified problems are not currently available


Design Project introductory handout

Entrepreneurs PowerPoint (LCD projector needed)

peer evaluation form



  • Design project introductory handout
  • tape
  • paper
  • scissors
  • paper cups
  • paper clips
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • markers
  • paint
  • staples
(Note: I just used whatever I could find in my classroom.)


  • entrepreneur: someone who organizes a business venture and assumes the risk for it
  • expenses: outlays or other using up of assets or incurrences of liabilities (or a combination of both) from delivering or producing goods, rendering services, or carrying out other activities that constitute the entity's ongoing major or central operations
  • price point: prices at which demand is relatively high
  • profit: net income; the excess of revenues over outlays in a given period of time
  • prototype: an original type, form, or instance of something serving as a typical example, basis, or standard for other things of the same type
  • risk: hazard; a source of danger; a possibility of incurring loss or misfortune


1. Students will review the impact that famous entrepreneurs such as John Smith Pemberton and his business of Coca-Cola have made on the world after watching and taking part in a PowerPoint about Entrepreneurs.

2. Questions to ask are included in the PowerPoint.

3. Teacher will lead a class discussion asking students about what it means to tap into a niche in the market and why that is important.  Students and teacher will also discuss, “How do entrepreneurs convince their clients to purchase their systems or products?”  Further, they will discuss how certain cultures react differently to various products and systems, (i.e. How would people in Ghana respond to a salesman selling Apple computers? How would people living in metro-Atlanta respond to a salesperson selling a water purification device used in rivers for individual use?)

4. Introduce the task (this is within the PowerPoint): Create your own product or system that would reach a large audience (at least one million people) and that will be long lasting.

5. Handout the Design Project handout, with “Notes on the design process” copied on the backside.

6. Review constraints with students (slide 36 of PowerPoint).

7. Students will group themselves intro groups of three to four.

8. The teacher will explain each step of the design process and what is expected.

(Note: Since I am on a block schedule, students have 100 minute classes. Below is the schedule that I created. This is flexible based on your class time of course:

Day 1: Steps 1 & 2

Day 2: Steps 3 & 4

Day 3: Step 5

Day 4: Steps 5 & 6

Day 5: Steps 6 & 7

Day 6: Step 8

Day 7: Step 8)

9. When students present their products/systems on the last day, they will be required to dress up like profe ssional entrepreneurs.  Their peers will critique their presentations based on how large of an audience the product/system reaches, how affordable the product/system is, and how well it meets a real need in the world.  Students will be asked to take notes on each others’ presentations and share their compliments and criticisms with the presenters in a respectful and diplomatic way.

10. Find local entrepreneurs or people with experience in design to come in when the students are working on their sketches and to sit on a panel when they present, to ask questions that a potential client would ask and to provide encouragement.  Ask parents, other teachers and other teachers’ spouses, friends, etc.

11. Grade students’ presentations with the provided rubric.  I also took a class work grade each day as students completed the steps in the design process.


See attached rubric Peer evaluations Students are given choices so they direct the project; this is how the project is differentiated.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Ask the students to introduce their products/systems to family and friends and record their responses. They could then use these responses to write a reflection on what they have learned.

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