How do you get kids excited about learning? Give them something to be excited about!
This idea has been in the works for a few years, and it all started when my entrepreneur brother, owner of Portland Gear, lived with me. During his time with me we spent endless hours on the couch listening to his business ideas, talking about his business plan, and watching Shark Tank. We would be mesmerized by the inventions the entrepreneurs would pitch to the Sharks and I’d find myself saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?” With that question in mind, I started thinking about the most creative people I knew. Well that’s easy, KIDS!
In my quest to make learning fun and meaningful for my students, I decided I had to find a way to bring this to life in my classroom. Enter the idea: Shark Tank Jr. To make this project rigorous and aligned with Common Core, I decided we would naturally link this to persuasive writing and speaking.
Luckily right around the time this idea came to me, it happened to be Super Bowl Sunday, the largest marketing day on television. To kick off the idea of Shark Tank Jr, I first introduced the idea of marketing with lessons on ethos, pathos, and logos, followed by an introduction of popular marketing strategies. You can find a FREEBIE in my store here. After teaching the kids these, we then watched a few examples of Super Bowl commercials from the most recent game. We had small group and whole group discussions about the marketing and got kids thinking about ways advertisers get their products noticed.
Following our lessons and discussion, we then created songs about ethos, pathos, and logos in small groups. To make things a little more engaging, we then had a Lipsync Battle between groups with the final four performing in front of judges such as the principal and counselor. The kids loved it and can still sing their songs to do this day, which means the kids retained the information.
After introducing marketing strategies, the idea of Shark Tank Jr. was introduced. I told the students they would be coming up with an idea or product that they would then present to a panel of judges in the most persuasive way possible. We had my brother come in and present about his very successful business and how he came up with the idea and markets his products. The kids thought he was just about the coolest person ever and this really set the stage for the project. The kids were SOLD!
We used the Shark Tank Jr editable Google Slides to help the students plan out their products and presentations. Through this project, and using this product, students will brainstorm ideas, pick an idea, decide on marketing strategies, create a logo, use math to determine the worth of their company, percentage of their company they are willing to give up for an investment and how much money they are seeking, and then write a speech. The students were so invested in the activity that they spent about three weeks working on their projects to prepare for the big event.
The Big Event
My teammate and I are all about creating engaging and meaningful experiences for our students, so when it came time to present our projects we went all out. We contacted local business owners, middle school and high school teachers, parents, and community members to be our Sharks. We transformed our stage into the “Shark Tank” by renting a black backdrop, blacking out the stairs leading to the stage and using black lights to make the tunnel into the tank. We set up official Shark chairs and played the Shark Tank themed music as the kids entered the tank and received deals. The stage was set, so when the big day came the kids were pumped.
The kids were absolutely 100% invested in their projects and were so excited to present. Many of them dressed up, created giant logos, and even made real working prototypes (which was not a requirement). The Sharks listened to their presentations and then asked them a variety of questions which put the kids on the spot and had them do a little impromptu speaking as well. After questioning, the Sharks competed to make deals with the students. The smiles on their faces were PRICELESS! Once a deal was made, the Shark Tank music played and an extra-large check was written! Even though it wasn’t real money, the kids felt as if it was.
It’s been a few months since the project, and the kids still refer to this experience as one of their favorite things we did this year. One student had very inconsistent attendance, but was there every day we were working on this project. Afterward he wrote in his yearbook memory that, “Shark Tank changed my school life!” (He’s been at school every day since!)
Be sure to check this product out in my store here! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need any help implementing this in your classroom.