‘Shark Tank’ provides model for project

McCORDSVILLE — Fourth-grade students at McCordsville Elementary School recently participated in real life economic and entrepreneurship projects. Modeled after “Shark Tank,” the television show, four finalist groups presented their projects in front of their peers, staff and the “Sharks,” a team of judges that included superintendent Shane Robbins and principal Stephanie Miller.

“Shark Tank” finalist teams featured an all-in-one “Fuzzy Bunny” pillow and stuffed animal, a “Stow Bow” for girls wanting to carry small items without a purse, “LolliPups” edible treats for dogs, and “Animal Kits” which were full of supplies needed for new pets.

The project covered 63 state education standards and included lessons in science, social studies (hist- ory of Indiana business), reading, language, math (real-world problems) and persuasive writing. “Shark Tank” is a prime example of project-based learning, a teaching method where students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time on a complex problem or challenge.

Through the hands-on project, students demonstrated the skills of developing a business as an entrepreneur by using the scientific method, persuasive writing and presentation skills. The student groups spent time researching the cost of materials and their competitors. They also were required to follow the timeline and Shark Tank pitch guidelines, prepare a business plan, utilize vocabulary words and understand the grading rubrics.

The business plan was a key aspect of the project, as students engaged in developing the concept, the cost of their produce and finalizing their target audience. They then turned their concepts into persuasive arguments to demonstrate why their product is needed.

The four fourth-grade teachers selected the top three groups in their classrooms to present to the teachers, or “sharks,” who then selected one product per classroom. The winning class product received their choice of a free homework passes, class money, a Spring Fling ticket (courtesy of MES PTO) or the option of getting to choose their Famous Hoosier during the Living Wax Museum experience.

In line with the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation’s technology environment, all students also were required to create an iMovie promotional video on their iPads as part of their presentation. This introductory video and the final presentation to the “sharks” can be seen on the corporation website at mvcsc.k12.in.us.