Entrepreneurship and STEAM: Focus on math

Entrepreneurship connects with the concept of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). Let’s focus on the connection to math.

Bar graph of a sales chart.

Did you know there is a strong connection between entrepreneurial thinking and STEAM - science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics? Both concepts result in individuals who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. Every aspect of STEAM has a connection with entrepreneurship. This article focuses on the connection between entrepreneurship and math.

Involvement in youth entrepreneurship programs builds life skills. Keeping records, critical thinking skills and decision-making rise to the top when focusing on the connection between math and entrepreneurship. Reading and interpreting profit/loss statements, balance sheets, cash plans, sales forecasts, expense budgets, ratio analysis, and break-even analysis, are just some of the many real life opportunities youth involved in running their own businesses get to experience.

Making decisions based on your analysis of the records you kept is the cornerstone of a 4-H youth entrepreneurship project and exemplifies 4-H’s philosophy “learning by doing.” The 4-H entrepreneurship programs can provide youth the opportunity to practice these life skills. As youth take an existing project to new levels or bring a great idea to life, math is integrated throughout the project.

Understanding math concepts is essential when undertaking an entrepreneurial endeavor. Most youth entrepreneurship ventures include the development of a business plan. One major component of that plan is the financial strategy or “budget.” To develop a good business plan, young entrepreneurs need to know the math behind their business. Important components include determining cost, calculating break even, developing pricing strategies, and calculating projected sales. Michigan 4-H Entrepreneurship Programs can provide activities and resources for youth to explore each of these components.

To see math in action in youth entrepreneurship, be sure to check out Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s episode of Math at Work, Math Meets Entrepreneurship. Young entrepreneurs in this episode explore the connections between math and entrepreneurship through a youth-focused episode of the popular TV series, Shark Tank.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce, and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or entrepreneurship, contact 4-HCareerPrep@msu.edu.

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