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From solar scooters to drones, SMS students create own 'Shark Tank'

Students get judges to buy into their products


by: GAZETTE PHOTO BY BARBARA SHERMAN - Sherwood Middle School students Sam Findtner (left) and Same Ettelstein hold up a drawing of their solar-powered Taiyo Drone that was a big hit with the 'sharks' in a version of Shark Tank' in their science class.

Sherwood Middle School students Sam Findtner (left) and Same Ettelstein hold up a drawing of their solar-powered Taiyo Drone that was a big hit with the 'sharks' in a version of Shark Tank' in their science class.

Mike Fisher is the biggest shark in the Sherwood Middle School “Shark Tank.”

Actually, he is better known as the associate principal, but he and other staff members became sharks for two days as students in one of Debbie Frankel’s elective environmental science classes for sixth- to eighth-graders presented inventions using solar power and tried to entice “investors” to back their products in a format based on the television show, “Shark Tank.”

Students got together in groups of three and had to come up with a company name and product, could use $100,000 for research and development create a Haiku Deck explaining the product, production cost, distribution plan, requested investment, and so on build a 3-D prototype or draw one and make a four-minute presentation in the Shark Tank and answer questions from the sharks.

On the second day, first up were Jarrett and Sebastian, whose company Super Solar Scooters produces solarized scooters. The boys said they netted $475 on each scooter and made $600,000 in one year. They were asking the sharks for $500,000 in return for 15 percent equity in their company.

The sharks asked questions about the age group they were targeting, the scooters’ durability and about a warranty. The boys valued their company at $3 million, but Fisher estimated it was really worth $2.4 million and offered them $500,000 for 30 percent equity, which they accepted.

Next up were Holly, Mia and Kaitlyn whose company SHC sells hat lamps that utilize any type of light bulb on top of an interchangeable hat with a solar panel built into the bill. They were asking for a $6,000 investment for 25 percent of the profits.

The sharks asked about the hats’ durability, if the design had been patented and if other companies had done something similar.

Fisher exclaimed, “I think there’s a big market for it, and it’s a brilliant idea for camping. I love it so much, I will double it and offer $12,000 for 25 percent,” which was a deal the girls could not turn down.

The next team was Jonathan, Abby and Brycen selling solar motorcycles through their company J.A.B. Inc. and asking $75,000 for 20 percent of the annual sales. The team said it had sold 2,000 units, and the product was especially popular in the Southwest where there is lots of sun.

Fisher said, “Why do you need $75,000? This sounds fishy. I’m out.”

A female shark did the math and said, “If I get 20 percent of $5 million, I’m in for $75,000,” and Fisher added, “I’ll be your accountant and business manager for 20 percent of the profit and no money up front,” which was the deal the team accepted.

Frankel reminded the students, “Know your product, know your money.”

by: GAZETTE PHOTO BY BARBARA SHERMAN - Sherwood Middle School students Kaitlyn Kohlmeyer (left), Mia Strickland and Holly Lawrence talk about the solar-powered hats their company produces, which was well received by the 'sharks' in the school's version of 'Shark Tank.'
Sherwood Middle School students Kaitlyn Kohlmeyer (left), Mia Strickland and Holly Lawrence talk about the solar-powered hats their company produces, which was well received by the 'sharks' in the school's version of 'Shark Tank.'


Jordyn, Sophie and Emily presented the Go-Go Charger produced by their company, The Triple Threat, which charges anywhere there is light, such as by a window, and they also want to start producing solar panels that attach to backpacks “because no one wants to carry around a solar panel.”

The girls asked for $50,000 for 25 percent equity, noting the chargers cost $20.20 to produce but sell for $30 to $40.

The sharks were impressed, and Fisher said, “Sometimes I invest in products and sometimes in people. I will take 10 percent of the sales and no equity for $50,000,” and the girls took the deal.

Jason, Cole and Maisie’s company Solar Power came up with the van fan, which utilizes solar power coming through vehicle windows and is especially helpful to keep vehicles cool when pets are inside. They asked $17,000 for 25 percent equity, which one of the female sharks snatched up.

Finally, Sam E., Sam F. and Jon’s company E.L.F. Incorporated presented their Taiyo Drone that can go into otherwise inaccessible areas with a range of 100 miles to deliver food, clothing and medical supplies, and it also has specialty upgrades available the drones cost $5,000 to produce and sell for $10,000.

The boys had actually made a presentation the first time the day before and received $350,000 from two sharks for 20 percent equity.

With drones now in use more and more, Frankel said, “This is how the real world works,” and Fisher added, “This is happening now. Kids your age are inventing and selling products. Keep thinking, and keep innovating.”

Besides Fisher, other sharks (who all came up with funny names and stories about how they got “rich”) were Principal Marianne Funderhide, counselors Ruthie Branch and Jammie Taylor administrative assistant Jeanette Godfrey and instructional coach Jan Rogers.

“Leading up to this project, the students studied solar energy and solar energy applications, home energy calculations, electrical circuit components and circuit boards,” Frankel said. “We started this unit the second week of May. Two summers ago I worked with Bonneville Environmental Foundation in their Solar 4R Schools program and thus the reason for this project.”



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