How Did Dozens of Denver Middle Schoolers Become Bitcoin Entrepreneurs?

This opinion editorial was written by Ryan Brisch and Anthony Feliciano. They recently spent a few days helping 85 middle school students operate a pop up shop on Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. Despite the fact that they had to get up early due to snowfall the night before, there was an air of excitement and anticipation. His wife Nicole is a sixth-grade math teacher at STRIVE Prep. He had begun to respond to her about coming to speak to her class on the fundamental mathematical foundations of Bitcoin. Nicole told Brisch in October about an enrichment class that Rawa Abu Alsamah (a coworker) was leading. This class was working with We Thrive. We Thrive offers mentorship and entrepreneurial apprenticeships that allow youth to start their own ventures, make real income and get mentorship. Alsamah’s seventh and eighth grade students were starting their own businesses with We Thrive. They would then be selling their products at a pop up market later in the month. Brisch was first intrigued to hear about the event and asked, “Do you think they would be interested buying and selling their products in Bitcoin?” Brisch was immediately inspired and reached out to his local Bitcoin Telegram group to find the content experts needed to make the idea a reality. Mark Maraia and Anthony Feliciano quickly offered their expertise on money, Bitcoin, and the Lightning Network. They also offered their time, energy, and sats. Over the next three week, Brisch, Feliciano, and Maraia met, spoke, and quickly devised an action plan. Maraia would talk to the children about money, while Feliciano would concentrate on Bitcoin and the Muun wallet. The first week’s presentation focused on getting students to think about money and how it works. They were then asked questions about how they could make it different and how the Bitcoin network, monetary system and currency worked. The presentation ended with a homework assignment: download the Muun wallet. The men returned to school the following week, and they were there to pass out sats and show students how invoices can be created and paid. The digital-native students were able to use Lightning payments and Muun wallet like fish to water, it was obvious! Many student vendors showed up to the pop-up event on a cold, snowy morning to learn how to get sats as payment for their product or services from other students. These students were required to use the Lightning Network only and the student entrepreneurs had to know how to create invoices. They were also encouraged to tell other students that they would accept sats as payment. Each student was able to learn wallet basics in a matter of minutes and was ready to go to their booth to accept bitcoin as payment for their product or services. With the help of a generous group from Rocky Mountain Bitcoiners, they had raised approximately $500 in bitcoin seed capital for this event. These young entrepreneurs had earlier set up a booth in the school gym with signage advertising their product/service, and a price list that included a variety of goods like homemade cupcakes, cookies, and other handmade goods, as well as services like shoe shines and neck shaves. The event started with students downloading the Muun wallet and learning how invoices are created. The students were then instructed to create Lightning invoices in order to receive $5 worth sats. Finally, they went down to the gym’s pop-up shop. A little over 80 students and a few teachers were able to purchase sats. After spending their first sats, some of the most daring students returned to reload. It was quite a sight to behold, as just hours earlier, Muun was downloaded by students. Soon merchants were creating invoices and kids were performing transactions. You could even hear merchants shouting “I accept Bitcoin!” The enthusiasm shown by students to learn how to send and get sats was inspiring. It would have made any Bitcoiner hopeful about the future. Many of the students thanked our local Bitcoiners for their lessons and sats. Digital natives, the students were able to understand how to use the technology with great ease. All of them were reminded of the importance to remember their four-digit code. They also learned how to use the security features to back up and recover their Muun wallet when needed. They took their first steps towards owning a property that required a high level of responsibility. The event ended with the most diligent vendors having more than 180,000 Sats in their wallets. This was a sign of opportunity. Our local Bitcoiners took the time to teach a few teachers how to download a wallet to receive sats. One teacher was amazed to learn that she didn’t need to provide a phone number or an address or a social security card and that she did not need permission from any bank or government. It takes only a phone and an Internet connection to send money to another country. And as the local Bitcoiners left, there was much appreciation. A group of seventh- and eighth-graders were more interested in Bitcoin than ever. It would be amazing to see another million Bitcoiners march into their local school and do something similar. Brisch is available to answer any questions. This guest post is by Ryan Brisch and Anthony Feliciano. Opinions expressed by these individuals are their own and do NOT necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.


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