Learners in U.S. History Present Inventions “Shark Tank” Style

December 20th, 2017

Take a look at this great article by the News and Tribune highlighting our learners presenting their Shark Tank inventions to community partners as part of a project wrapping up the end of the semester! #ThinkClarksville #NewTechNetwork #PBL

CLARKSVILLE — Renaissance Academy juniors Keegan Allred and Tyler Howard stood in front of their U.S. history class and asked for $100,000.

In exchange for the money, investors would get a 20 percent stake in the students’ fictional company and their invention, a golf ball with a GPS chip inside so stray balls can be recovered, would get off the ground.

“The problem is the average golfer loses at least one golf ball per round,” Allred explained. Based on numbers from a golf.com survey, those lost balls equate to an average of $200 a year, according to Allred.

He and three classmates worked together on the proposal and on Monday presented it to two Indianapolis professionals during a mock “Shark Tank.” Modeled after the ABC reality TV show, “Shark Tank” brings entrepreneurs and business hopefuls in front of investors, the “sharks,” with the hope of securing funding for their idea.

Those professionals – Kevin Casey, who works in marketing, and Chris Waugh, a software developer – heard proposals for a device that ties shoelaces, detachable pockets, an organ regeneration business model and more. After each student group presented, Casey and Waugh tested their knowledge of their own project and their business acumen.

The presentations were the final step in a four-week lesson for Emma Cudahy’s U.S. History class.

“We spent some time learning about the history of innovation in the U.S. and how that innovation drives progress, for better and for worse,” Cudahy said. “They were tasked with thinking of something that would have a positive impact.”

The students studied “anything that has to do with technology improving and being enhanced and how that drives history and effects society at large,” according to Cudahy.

 Bringing in real-world professionals, either from the area or nearby metropolises, gives students a chance to sharpen speaking skills and is a part of every presentation Cudahy facilitates.

“It’s never an easy thing to do, talking to strangers that come in and strangers that are qualified business professionals,” Cudahy said. “We give these kids opportunities to interact with community partners before they’re sent to college or the working world where they’re expected to have those skills.”

Though the two “sharks” were not investing real money Monday, they did walk away with favorites.

As a golfer, Waugh favored the GPS golf ball. Casey was a fan of shoes with replaceable soles, thanks primarily to a 3-D printed prototype and solid presentation, and Cudahy would have invested in a solar-powered water purification system because it was a “good idea” and the students offered a “high stake for low investment.”