Shark Tank

Mock ‘Shark Tank’ showcases student innovation
Posted on 02/22/2016

Well-prepared Poplar Bluff Middle Schoolers gave seasoned business and school technology leaders a run for their money on Friday, Feb. 19, during a mock Shark Tank.

Students impressed the panel of judges with clever inventions including a baseball fetcher, Wi-Fi enhancer, shoe-tying device, singing voice corrector, vital organ preserver and scented T-shirt for when deodorant application is forgotten.

“I just wanted to show (the students) how they could make an impact,” explained Cody Young, sixth grade science teacher. “I guarantee I covered every strand without touching a purple science textbook, and they’re gonna remember it! These are real world skills."

To begin the cross-curricular project-based learning assignment last month, students studied famous inventors and the impact their innovations had on society. They then thought up inventions to resolve inconveniences in their own lives, and made commercials with iMovie to sell the products to their classmates. Finally, Young selected the top six groups to participate in the Shark Tank, which was modeled after the popular CNBC reality series.

Students displayed their market research by sharing with the panel manufacturing costs, first year sale projections, potential competition, who their target audience is and how they plan to reach them. The judges challenged the students by making pitches to own a percentage of the company and offered ideas about different pricing models, expanded audiences and the significance of patents.

“The kids did a phenomenal job, coming with great ideas,” said shark Roger Hanner, an entrepreneur. “They stuck to their guns, which is the most important thing. I’m glad they pushed back.”

Hanner, who has submitted an application to be on the actual show “Shark Tank,” has been working through the patent process on his product Rutt N StuF, a tree stand stabilizer system for hunters. Other invited specialists included President Steve Halter of the Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce, R-I Chief Technology Officer Aaron Badgley and Instructional Technology Facilitator Candace Warren.

Several students from the help desk class at the high school documented the presentations in front of a green screen so they can use the footage to practice editing with Final Cut and produce a video for their social media channels and website, which is under construction.

“Natalie has been talking non-stop about how much fun this project has been,” wrote her mother Trisha Whitehead on the district Facebook page. Natalie was part of a team of four that proposed a product called “Soundstar” that would make karaoke singers sound like the actual artist they are impersonating with a special microphone.

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Cutline: Students (front to back) Mason Cook, Gavin Vaughn, Alexis Keirsey and Brendan Todd seal the deal with the sharks after presenting the “Super Ball,” a baseball with a tracking device in it.

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