4.3 million people worldwide love the successful television show “Shark Tank”, where inventors and entrepreneurs showcase their company’s products, services, and inventions to a panel of judges, known as “sharks.” These sharks then decide if they want to invest their own money, time, and resources into the company to make the product a success.
The contestants are usually mature, well-spoken entrepreneurs. Well, Shulamith School in Cedarhurst has several of these well-spoken entrepreneurs. The only difference is they are 12 and 13 years old!
Shulamith offers their 7th and 8th grade students the opportunity to participate in their own version, which they call “Fish Tank.” The school used government STEM teacher salary funding that Teach NYS advocated for to offset $37,000 in STEM teacher salaries. This funding freed up money in the overall budget, allowing the school to create and run this educational program. The school not only pays highly qualified staff to advise students, but it funds about 40 teams to participate in this long-term competition.
In groups of 3-4 students, these engineering teams work together to develop their product, build a working prototype, create slides discussing their product, create a business plan, and pitch their product. Projects include a flotation device for children that is remotely controlled by a parent, a UV LED light toothbrush cleaner, and a safer version of commonly used hand sanitizers.
With the school providing most of the supplies and materials, the students have the resources to fully create and test their inventions, which are ultimately presented to judges, just like the participants do in the television show. The inventions go through three judging rounds, until the top teams reach the finale. The winning team is crowned the victor, earning each team member an A+ on their science final.
Not only is the “Fish Tank” project fun and exciting for the girls, but they are learning real-world skills. Teach NYS is proud to count Shulamith as a member school, and one that is successfully and creatively preparing its students for future careers in the STEM industry.