Ryan Brisch, who recently spent several weeks helping 85 high school students run a pop-up store running on Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, is the opinion editor for Anthony Feliciano and Mark Maraia.
On November 18, 2022, approximately 85 students braved a cold, snowy Friday morning at STRIVE Prep – Lake Middle School in Denver, Colorado to participate in a unique program. Although they started late because of the snow last night, there was an excited anticipation in the air.
Denver bitcoiner Ryan Brisch often talks to his significant other about issues Bitcoin can help solve or some new Bitcoin product he’s excited about. His wife, Nicole, is a sixth-grade math teacher at STRIVE Prep, and he started saying that he should come and talk to her class about some of the basic math behind Bitcoin.
In October, Nicole was telling Brisch about an enrichment class led by her co-worker, Rawa Abu Alsamah. We Thrive offers entrepreneurial experiences where young people start their own businesses, earn real income and gain mentorship. Alsamah’s seventh- and eighth-graders were creating their own business under the guidance of We Thrive and would be selling their products at a pop-up market at the end of the month.
Brish’s first question when he heard about this incident was: ”Do you think they would be interested in buying and selling their products in bitcoin?
From there, the idea took off, and Brisch turned to the local Bitcoin Telegram group for the content experts he needed to make the idea work. Anthony Feliciano and Mark Maraia quickly volunteered not only their expertise in money, Bitcoin, and the Lightning Network, but also their time, energy, and direction. Over the next three weeks, Brisch, Feliciano and Maraia met, talked and quickly developed a plan of action. Maraia would teach the kids about money, while Bitcoin and Feliciano would focus on using Mu’s wallet and the Lightning Network.
The first week’s presentation focused on students asking questions about money, how it works, who currently controls it, and how money might be different later, and how the Bitcoin network and money system works. Finished with a bit of homework: downloading the Muun wallet. The next week, on the morning of the store opening, the three men returned to the school, handed over the money collected the previous week, and showed the students how to create and pay an invoice. Needless to say, digital native students have taken Muun wallet and Lightning payments out of the water!
On that cold snowy morning, dozens of student vendors arrived before the pop-up event so they could learn how to get paid for their products or services from other students. The plan called for these students to use the Lightning Network only, meaning that student entrepreneurs would need to know how to create an invoice.
These student entrepreneurs received $5 to start their day and were encouraged to tell other students that they would accept payment in return. Within minutes, each student learned the basics of a wallet and went to their booth armed with the knowledge of how to accept bitcoin in payment for a product or service. (A week earlier, they had raised about $500 in bitcoin as seed capital for the event, with the support of a generous group of Rocky Mountain Bitcoiners.)
Earlier that morning, these young entrepreneurs had set up their booths in the school gym with signs advertising their products/services and a price list offering a wide variety of goods such as homemade cupcakes, cookies, waffles and other handmade goods as well as services. such as neck shaving and shoe shine.
The event started with students downloading the Muun wallet and learning how to create invoices. Then, students were tasked with generating Lightning invoices to purchase $5 worth of sats as they headed down to the pop-up shop in the gymnasium. More than 80 students and several teachers have sats downloaded for spending. Some of the bravest students returned to reload after their first sit-in. It was truly a sight to see, just a few hours ago students were loading Muun. Soon, merchants were creating invoices for goods, kids were running around making transactions, and in all the excitement, merchants were shouting, “I accept bitcoin!”
The level of enthusiasm students showed to learn how to send and receive sats was inspiring and would make any Bitcoiner optimistic about our future. The event was a huge success, with many students thanking our local bitcoiners for the lessons and lessons. Students who were digital natives were able to understand how to use technology with incredible ease. All were told the importance of remembering the four-digit code and using the security features to back up and restore the Muun wallet when needed. This began the first, initial steps to owning a form of ownership with a level of responsibility that no one knew.
By the end of the event, the most diligent sellers had more than 180,000 sats in their wallets, and were more aware of the opportunity this new currency had.
Our local bitcoiners also took the time to educate a few teachers on how to load a wallet and buy sats. After receiving sats in Muon’s wallet, one teacher was struck by the idea that he didn’t have to give out a phone number, address or social security number, and didn’t need permission from a bank or government. To send money to someone on the other side of the world, all you need is a phone and an internet connection.
As our local bitcoiners left the event, many thanks were given as they walked away convinced that the rabbit hole was approaching for a new crop of bitcoins. At least one group of seventh and eighth graders was more interested in Bitcoin.
The only thing that could reinforce that feeling is to see another million bitcoins go into a local school nearby and do something similar. Contact Brisch if you would like to learn more.
This is a guest post by Ryan Brisch, Anthony Feliciano and Mark Maraia. The views expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.