How to Inspire Students to Be Creators & Leaders: Highlights from Entrepreneurial Expo 2020

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Financial Literacy
  • The Aspen Difference
Aspen Academy Contributors

Each year, our hundreds of students from Kindergarten through 7th Grade spend months and weeks thoughtfully bringing businesses to life for a culminating event in January: Entrepreneurial Expo. It’s one of the most energetic and inspiring days on campus as students demonstrate the leadership and entrepreneurial skills they’ve developed: collaborating as a team, determining a product, creating it, and marketing and selling their final product.

Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute (AEI) Director, Katie Becker shares: “When students are given the experience of creating a business (whether it is their own, or as a collaboration with classmates) they are given permission to imagine, dream, create, and be curious. Schools should be a place of wonder, yet too often, our prescriptive lesson activities do not allow that kind of freedom.  When kids explore ways they can turn their ideas into products, services, games, or more, they begin to see opportunities for themselves or their communities. Their framework for what is possible expands.”

Our most recent Expo included a wide array of products for sale, including:

  • Kindergarten: KINDer Kokoa - hot chocolate mix in a hand-painted snowman jar ($4)
  • 1st Grade: Keychain Time - handmade beaded keychains  ($2-$4)
  • 2nd Grade: Amazing Aspen Activity Books with coloring pages and other engaging activities ($5)
  • 3rd Grade: How 2’s For You Books for making looms, cursive handwriting, sewing and making slime and more! ($5)
  • 4th Grade: Education Nation Boxes - pick and choose from math packets and science experiments to journals and bookmarks ($2.50-$8)
  • 5th Grade: Marketplace including cat/dog toys, stress balls, flower pots, and memes ($2-$5)
  • 6th Grade:
    • Bear Blankets - handmade fleece blankets to keep big (and small) bears warm ($15)
    • Fire and Ice Bracelets and phone cases - handmade, one-of-a-kind phone cases and beaded bracelets ($4-$6)
    • Mile High Hydro Cases and fastfoto - Photos in a Jedi-inspired background and handmade, one-of-a-kind phone cases ($3-$11)
  • 7th Grade: Cooking With Seventh Grade - digital cookbooks sharing recipes from 7th grade families ($5) 


The 2020 event, our third annual, resulted in the highest net profits with a total of nearly $4,000 in sales. The proceeds from this day follow each class as they progress through the school. Other celebrations from the day:

  • The highest net profit from a grade as the 5th Grade Marketplace, earning nearly $690 in sales of their products.
  • Best Pitch Award: 4th Grade
  • Best Booth Design: 3rd Grade

“Watching these students pride and enthusiasm is one of the most exciting aspects of working on this project,” says Jennifer Gravlee, AEI Leadership Coach. “It’s also remarkable to have conversations with them about the challenges that arise in the process and how to work toward solutions. Their inventive thinking and problem-solving is a skill that will serve them well for their lifetime.”

For more on the Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute, click here.