Eighth grade students Dani Shafer, Kaila Tangney, and Isabelle Bailey presented their invention to a team of four “Sharks” during their Shark Tank project. Presentation skills and public speaking were just two of the skills that were perfected during this fun project.
By RHMS eighth grade student Maria Pangalos; photo courtesy of RHMS eighth grade student Zoe Wilson
The ability to speak and present in front of others is a difficult skill to master. Regardless of the size of the crowd or who might be in the audience, the speaker needs to be prepared and confident. Judi Holst, an eighth grade language arts teacher at Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) found a creative way to teach the keys to successful speaking and presenting to her students.
Holst conducted a project involving creativity and, of course, presenting. This project was called “Shark Tank,” and was based off of the current television show of the same name. Young student entrepreneurs worked in groups or individually to create an invention that could contribute to modern society. During the process of inventing, students were required to keep an invention log to prove that they themselves invented the product and to show their thought process throughout creating and constructing the product. After all of the hard work put into the final product, it was time to show it all off!
Within a time span of two weeks, parent volunteers came to RHMS to be the “Sharks,” or businessmen or women who might invest in the entrepreneur’s product. Four Sharks watched the scheduled group’s pitches, which included various components such as videos, pictures, demonstrations, or audience involvement. After the pitch ended, the Sharks gave feedback and asked questions about the product or entrepreneur. These questions ranged from “Have you invented any other products we should know about?” to “Why would I want to buy this?” The list was endless.
The Sharks said that they had such a good time that they wanted to volunteer for more classes. Student Ivanna Valverde said, “It was fun because we had a variety and freedom of subjects to choose, and it tested our creative juices!” Valverde also mentioned that it was her favorite project of the whole year. Student Sadie Collinsworth remarked, “It was fun because you got to be a totally different identity. You were an adult version of yourself!”
This phenomenal project sparked ideas that the students didn’t even know they had. In fact, the project brought out the amazing creativity that might have gone unnoticed for years if it weren’t for the passion of having a little freedom, and a lot of fun.