By DAVID McGEE, Bristol Herald Courier
BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) – One by one Tuesday afternoon, about a dozen Holston View Elementary fifth-grade students stepped through a curtain into a dimly lit room and gave their best product pitch to a steely-eyed panel with questions aplenty.
It marked the opening day for Holston View’s version of “Shark Tank” 2022, complete with theme music from the popular TV show. The project was the creation of fifth-grade teachers Jill Berthold, Diana Bush and Victoria Lamkin.
“We started this a few years ago when Mrs. Bush went to a target-based learning session, “Berthold said. “This group of kids was given a rubric and sent on their way. These projects are their inventions and innovations – they are all theirs. It meant something to them. “
Products pitched included everything from a “smart” softball and a special football air pump to a picture frame that displays photos from a smart phone, a tray for organizing essentials for the injured or elderly, a jacket with a solar panel to keep the wearer warm , a cool pillow and a device to draw or sketch on a tablet or computer and project the image onto the ceiling.
Student Jackson Walden went so far as to display the design of his “magno ball” basketball on the t-shirt he was wearing.
Jackson said his biggest takeaway was the confidence he gained from giving his presentation.
“When we first started, I thought I would do horrible. But after I presented, I thought I did really well, ”he said.
Students were tasked with creating a product idea, designing a prototype to show and developing their entire presentation which includes a request for money and a business plan, Berthold said.
“They worked on real life skills. 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. “
Two rounds were held Tuesday and two more were held Thursday. All students were graded.
“We are grading them on their work ethic. Work ethic is big these days and these kids gave 110% and they deserve to get a grade for that, ”Berthold said. “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. “
The school’s first “Shark Tank” project occurred in 2017, Bush said.
“The first year we started small with six local sharks but now we’re up to 34 celebrity sharks,” Bush said.
Nearly 60 students participated and 34 “sharks” from the community including local business, restaurant, boutique, real estate executives, CEOs, IT supervisors, public service employees, nonprofit agency founders and successful business owners from the greater Tri-Cities.
“I feel like we’ve expanded on the presentation, creation, elaboration on how the prototypes are created – and the rigor of it. They can be asked any type of questions and they need to be ready to respond, “Bush said. “We have been so impressed with students who are typically our quiet ones in the classroom really come to life and showcase what they’re able to do.”
“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. “
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