Making Lemonade When Life Doesn’t Give You Lemons: Future Trailblazers Building Apps

Man teaching a girl on a computer
Pacific Point’s Keegan Ballantyne at Sacred Hearts Academy.

If you wait for life to give you lemons, you won’t have time to plan your lemonade stand. That’s just one lesson we imparted during a pre-COVID event when we hosted Build a Lemonade Stand Workshops at Hawaii’s largest all-girls school, Sacred Hearts Academy. We went to help introduce the students to careers in technology and inspire these future business leaders, innovators, and trailblazers. We were fortunate to have an opportunity to hold workshops where the girls were able to build a Salesforce application to manage their very own lemonade stand.

We were reminded that small acts of inspiration can have a big impact and spark lasting interests, instill creativity, boost confidence, and encourage curiosity.

Four volunteers from Pacific Point — Jeff Sterner, Director, and Consultants Charles Bowen, Keegan Ballantyne, and Kaitlin Nelsen — hosted the Trailhead Build a Lemonade Stand App workshops and I had the honor of delivering the keynote address at the 26th Annual Science Symposium for Girls. We recently took a look back on the event, shared laughter and anecdotes, and discussed what we hoped to do next.

Woman pointing to screen during a presentation
Pacific Point’s Kaitlin Nelsen presenting to Sacred Heart students in early 2020.

The Conversation

The school reached out to me initially on being a keynote speaker and during our prep meeting, they explained that after my keynote address, the students will go to breakout sessions allowing the students to get hands-on with various STEM careers. Most of the workshops were science-oriented, like how to make ice cream or build robots, so I asked if the school would be willing to have our team host workshops on application development. They’d never had anything of the sort before.

And that’s the thing. They’re an all-girls school with few of their students knowing much about careers in technology. The students hear the terms — science, technology, engineering, math — but how these terms connect to jobs is a little unclear. For us, we are particularly able to help them better understand technology jobs.

JEFF: Our purpose was to introduce the students to technology, specifically we used Salesforce Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform. We took a concept that kids have been doing for years — a lemonade stand — and showed how the solution they built could help run a business.

Gather the Ingredients… but don’t forget to check for sour lemons

It didn’t take long before all the spaces for our workshops were filled by girls that were super-interested in learning about the Salesforce app. The students, 4th– 6thgraders, caught on quickly as workshop leaders led them through the technical side of building the app before moving to the creative side of customizing the details.

KEEGAN: The kids were super, super into creating different flavors, not just regular Lemonade, but Strawberry Lemonade, along with setting the prices and sizes… Some girls were putting “Extra, Extra, Extra, Extra” and making them into $20 drinks. They built the sizes, the prices, and the flavors first. Then they simulated taking orders. Based on the orders and number of drinks sold, they figured how much they had made in revenue. They ran reports on the highest-selling drinks, the lowest selling drinks, and the most popular flavors. Some of the girls were super-excited, like “Oh, I made $300 today!” That was pretty funny to hear. One cute story was when Kaitlin was talking to a student about not charging too much for a drink.

KAITLIN: They were cracking me up with their prices. It was like 50¢, $2, $5… $60! So I said, “That’s quite a gap in price. That might not be a good business plan…”

KEEGAN: The girl looked at Kaitlin and said with a bit of attitude, “I KNOW what a business plan is.” We really had a good laugh over that one later.

Mix It Up

Mastering a new skill can give anyone a huge confidence boost. For us, it was so rewarding to see these girls successfully go through the process and come out of the workshops talking about how else they could implement what they learned. We like to think that this kind of confidence-boosting experience plants a seed in their brain that they can take on a career in the tech field, a field traditionally dominated by men.

KAITLIN: I got to talking with a number of students and found that for them the workshops went beyond just the fun of creating flavors, sizes and prices. Selling on social media is huge right now, especially for that age group and a bit older. Some of the girls mentioned wanting to start a small business selling stuff like shirts, hats, bracelets or food, and asked if Salesforce is adaptable for that. I thought it was cool that they were already thinking of possibilities. And although marketing on social media is big for them, I don’t think anyone knows much about tracking and managing the business, so the workshop was a good introduction.

CHARLES: I thought it was cool to see the increase in confidence in some of the girls by the end of it. At least with the girls I worked with, I found a big difference in those who have a computer at home or have a cell phone, who were more familiar with the type of things we were doing. There were others who you could tell were starting off with a feeling of “I just can’t do this.”

KEEGAN: Definitely. Some were intimidated at first, but by the end, the confidence was definitely noticeable.

Check the Lemonade

It can be difficult to tell how kids really feel about an activity until you’re wrapping up, and they’re either bolting out the door or lingering to do more or ask questions.

JEFF: One parent commented that her daughter is such a lover of comics that they had planned to rush out right after to catch Comic Con at the convention center. As it turned out, the girl was in no hurry to leave because she wanted to finish her Lemonade Stand app. Cool feedback!

KEEGAN: Another parent thought it super helpful that the kids not just learned during that one-hour session, [but] they could go home, log in with their own password to Salesforce Trailhead and the Salesforce lemonade stand that they’d built, and use it as much as they want moving forward.

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The workshops were great, but we talked about how we didn’t want it to end there. The kids weren’t the only ones who got a lot out of the event, and we don’t want it to be a one-time thing for us or for them. As important as it was for them to learn about potential tech careers and practice using the app, it’s as important for them to be able to take what they learned out into the world; to keep working with the tech and continue the learning process.

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