School Launches “Shark Tank” Project, Tennessee Students Pitch Their Business Ideas To Their Community

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The opening day for Holston View’s “Shark Tank” 2022 was accompanied by theme music from TV’s iconic program. Victoria Lamkin, Diana Bush, and Jill Berthold came up with the concept for this project while teaching fifth graders.

The mission: According to Berthold, students had to come up with a product concept, make a prototype, and create a presentation that included a funding request and a business plan.

What was presented: All kinds of products, from a “smart” baseball and football air pump to a picture frame that shows images from a smartphone, a tray for organizing things for the elderly, a jacket with a solar panel to keep the user warm, a cool pillow and equipment to draw or sketch on a tablet or computer and project the image into the ceiling were on exhibit. A t-shirt with the “magno ball” basketball logo on it was worn by Jackson Walden, a student.

Why it matters: Real-world skills were taught to the students. “Speaking in public, making eye contact, making ‘thank you’ notes… This is something we don’t get to do every day, but we’re able to include every single subject: math, science, language arts and social studies. You saw those subjects included all day today,” said Berthold.

How was it graded: Berthold explains that they “are grading them on their work ethic.” She describes how “work ethic is big these days and these kids gave 110% and they deserve to get a grade for that. Normally this is something we do after testing. It’s still after testing, but we can grade it because it includes all our basic core courses.”

Looking deeper: There were around 60 kids in attendance, as well as 34 “sharks” from the Tri-Cities community, including representatives from a variety of local businesses and organizations, including a restaurant, a boutique, and a real estate company.

The very big picture: “As an adult, I don’t think I could do what they’re doing. I can teach children, but being in front of adults is difficult,” Berthold said. “And they don’t know who they’re presenting in front of; that’s another intimidating factor…It’s not like presenting in front of teachers. They’re presenting in front of somebody who they’ve never met before. That takes a lot.”