This is an opinion editorial written by Ryan Brisch, Anthony Feliciano, and Mark Maraia. They spent a few weeks helping 85 middle-schoolers run a pop up shop that was running on Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.
On November 18, 2022, about 85 students braved a cold snowy Friday morning at STRIVE Prep – Lake middle school in Denver, Colorado to participate in a unique program. Despite getting a late start due to snowfall the night prior, there was a sense that they were eager for the day ahead.
Ryan Brisch, a Denver Bitcoiner had been talking to his significant other about the issues Bitcoin could solve or about a new Bitcoin product he was excited about. 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, her coworker, had led. It was a class that was working with an external group. We Thrive. We Thrive offers entrepreneurial apprenticeships where youth can start their own ventures and earn real income. Mentorship is also provided. Alsamah’s seventh- and eighth-grade students were creating their own businesses through the guidance of We Thrive and would be selling their products at a pop-up market later in the month.
When hearing about this event, Brisch’s first question was, ‘’Do you think they would be interested in being able to buy and sell their products in bitcoin?”
Brisch reached out immediately to his local Bitcoin Telegram group to find the content experts needed to make the idea a reality. Mark Maraia, Anthony Feliciano, and Mark Maraia quickly offered their expertise in money, Bitcoin, the Lightning Network, as well as their time, energy, sats, and their expertise. Over the next three week, Brisch, Feliciano, and Maraia met, spoke, and quickly devised an action plan. Maraia would teach them about money, while Feliciano would concentrate on Bitcoin and the Muun wallet.
The first week’s presentation was focused on getting the students to think about money, how it worked, who currently controlled it and then question them about how it could be different and how the Bitcoin network and monetary system worked. It ended with a small homework assignment: to download 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. Needless to say, digital-native students embraced Lightning payments and Muun wallet like fish to water!
A number of student vendors showed up to the pop-up on a cold morning to learn how they could receive sats as payment for their product. These students were to only use the Lightning Network, so student entrepreneurs had to be able to create invoices.
These student entrepreneurs were given $5 to get started and encouraged to tell other students that they would accept sats as payment. Within minutes, each student was able to learn wallet basics and go to their booth with the knowledge to accept bitcoin as payment for their product or services. (With the support 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 listing that included a variety of goods like homemade cupcakes, cookies, and waffles as well as services like shoe shines and neck shaves.
The event began by students downloading Muun wallets, and then learning how to create invoices. 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. Some of the most adventurous students returned to recharge after spending their first sats. It was quite a sight to behold, as just hours earlier, Muun was downloaded by students. Sooner after, merchants were creating invoices for goods, kids were running around performing transactions, and through all of the excitement, you could hear merchants yelling “I accept bitcoin!”
The students’ enthusiasm for learning how to send and retrieve sats was inspiring. This would make any Bitcoiner optimistic about the future. The event was a great success with many students thanking local Bitcoiners who taught them and gave them sats. The students, digital natives, were able understand the technology with remarkable ease. All students were taught to remember their four-digit code, and how security features can be used to backup and retrieve the Muun wallet whenever needed. They took their first steps towards owning a property that required a high level of responsibility.
The event concluded with more than 180,000 Sats in the pockets of the most productive vendors. There was also a growing awareness of the potential for this new type of money.
Our local Bitcoiners also took the opportunity to train a few teachers on how to download and receive sats. After receiving sats on her Muun wallet, one teacher was blown away with the idea that she didn’t have to provide a phone number, or an address, or a social security number and that it did not require permission from a bank or government. To send money to someone else, all you need is an internet connection and a phone.
Our local Bitcoiners walked out of the event with many thanks and a feeling that the rabbit hole was close for a new group of bitcoiners. A seventh and eighth grade cohort were at least more curious about Bitcoin.
It is impossible to top that feeling than to see another million Bitcoiners march into local schools and do something similar. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more. Brisch.
This guest post was written by Ryan Brisch, Anthony Feliciano, and Mark Maraia. Opinions expressed here are completely their own and may not reflect those of BTC Inc, Bitcoin Magazine.