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Marketplace for Kids encourages young entrepreneurs

Young inventors head to Dickinson

A group of creative kids will be rolling into Dickinson as part of the Marketplace for Kids program being held at Dickinson State University on March 12th.

This unique opportunity brings students together with teachers, youth leaders, parents and business and community leaders for a day of experiential learning in an educational environment.

Marketplace for Kids takes place throughout the state and this is the 22nd year Dickinson has hosted. Students from 3rd to 8th grade within Dickinson and throughout the region are invited with the goal of igniting the spirit of entrepreneurship in students.

In order to accomplish this, students attend five, 25 minutes classes as part of the program’s Education Days. These hands-on classes and activities are designed to help kids explore career fields, personal development, financial literacy, leadership skills and new technology and to discover entrepreneurship. Some of this year’s classes include Bridge Building 101 with Tasha Steinbach of Oil Field Services KLJ Engineering. Making MOOLA from Agriculture with Dr. Chip Poland from the Department of Agriculture and Drone Discovery with Janet Wanek from NDSU Extension Services in Dunn County. These collaborations with educators, business leaders and organizations prove that educating kids is truly a multifaceted, community effort.

To get the students geared up for the day, the program hosts an opening rally with guest speakers and announcements. This year’s featured speaker is United States Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who will be speaking on why innovation is important. Mayor Scott Decker will also provide remarks.

In addition, students are invited to participate in or contribute to the “Hall of Ideas,” which, according to Executive Director Robert Heitkamp, is “A sort of Tradeshow experience where students have the chance to present their invention or business idea to area professionals.”

Although encouraged to do so, students are not required to create a project to participate in Marketplace for Kids, but the Hall of Ideas often creates inspiration for younger students who may want to try their hand at an invention next year.

Some of this year’s projects and inventions include a business idea for personalized horse accessories, a snowplow that can scoop up snow and turn it into a snow melting brine and fun burger cupcakes and sugar cookie fries for your next party.

Tanner Wanner and Cody Shockley, 6th graders at Prairie Elementary in Fairfield, ND, are showcasing their gaming console invention called “All-4-One,” that can play almost any game on one system.

“I’m excited to have a lot of people see our project,” said Tanner.

Another set of 6th graders out of Prairie Elementary are set to present the Extinguinade, which is a more effective way to extinguish fires. Emmet is most exited to show their invention to the judges and Dawsyn likes the networking aspect of the program. “I’m excited to attend the classes and see my friends,” he said.

“The ideas these kids come up with just blows your mind,” said Heitkamp, who recalls one of his favorite inventions was from a student from Whapeton who created a simple way to find the TV remote with a cell phone.

Heitkamp also recalls an invention that he wishes was being used today.

“A young girl from Minot created parking sensors using red and green lights to help you find a parking space in a parking lot,” explained Heitkamp. When the light is red, you know the spot is taken, and when the car leaves, it turns green, signaling a vacancy.

“Can you imagine how much time this could save shoppers?” Heitkamp exclaimed, going on to explain that if the program mentors see potential in a project they will help the student move on to the next step or help get them in touch with professionals.

At one Hall of Ideas event a student invented a steak-flavored sunflower seed and was able to talk to the owner of Giant Seeds that very same day about his invention.

Heitkamp, who got involved with the program after winning awards for his own medical invention through the Marketplace of Ideas program, said it’s projects like these that inspire him.

“Kids have no rules when it comes to inventing and building ideas,” he said, adding that adults often forget how to keep things simple. “Kids can think more out of the box and put something together successfully. They are so open to innovation.”

And while inventions and business ideas are the heart of learning about entrepreneurship, Marketplace for Kids also provides a chance for students and teachers to network with other students, teachers, community and business leaders to learn how they can collaborate to make their communities brighter places.

This year’s theme is “Success in a ‘Virtual World’”. Community members are invited to explore the Hall of Ideas between 11:25 – 12:25 on Dickinson State University’s campus.

Find out more at

Written by Jessie Veeder

Jessie Veeder

Jessie is a singer/songwriter/writer and statewide columnist living on her family’s ranch near Watford City with her husband and daughter. She blogs at . Reach her at (


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