Making their pitch: Newark students propose innovations to 'shark pool'
NEWARK ― This wasn't the popular "Shark Tank" TV show, and these were not wannabe millionaires trying to sell their dreams to proven titans of industry.
These were, however, fourth and fifth graders of Newark City Schools' After School Adventures program, and they had some pretty brilliant ideas of their own.
Similar to the television show, they had to impress a "pool of sharks" — in this case, teachers, administrators, and school board and community members who served as judges Wednesday during the Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge at the Newark High School Commons.
"We have 41 projects involving 110 kids, and that is amazing," said Ann Hinkle, site coordinator for the five participating elementary schools. "A lot of recycled materials were used for the prototypes. The kids have never presented before and are a little nervous."
After School Adventures is open to all Newark students. Hinkle said a big mix of kids is involved, with some of them at-risk students, low performers and those with behavioral issues.
The state grant they received for After School Adventures is used to focus on literacy and math, and for a couple of hours after school, there is homework, tutoring, positive youth development, social emotional support, entrepreneurship and field trips. The pitch challenge was a logical next step, and middle and high school after schoolers pitched in to help run the event, Hinkle said.
Participating fourth and fifth graders came from Newark's after school units at Ben Franklin, McGuffey, Cherry Valley, John Clem and Carson elementary schools, and they put together projects based on an agricultural theme chosen by Ohio State University's Agricultural College.
Their challenge: invent something to solve a problem, improve an existing idea, or answer a need in working with chickens, goats or bees. The 30 judges paid attention to their creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, attention to detail and presentation skills.
One of the schools, Cherry Valley, chose to focus on bees, and with good reason.
"I have seven bee hives," principal Chet Coleman said. "I presented to After School Adventures about some of the problems beekeepers have, such as moisture getting into the hives through rain, hail and snow. They seemed very interested. This is kind of like the old science fairs they used to do. All the items are priced, they think about where to sell them and they put together nice displays."
Cherry Valley fifth grader Skyla Smith was part of the team that took first place on the day with the project "The Organic Water-Resisting Wax." That distinction came with great honor, though not the funding that's part of the TV show.
Skyla said it would cost $10 for the wax and $5 for the spray.
"We want to give 25 percent of the money to charity," she said. "These are for kids, so it will get them interested and help us save the bee population in the future."
Lylah Cater and Ryland Neal from Cherry Valley won fifth place for "Bee-noculars." Other projects from the school were "The Bee Warmer," "The Hive Enforcer," "The Strong Hive," "Bee Alive" and "Bee-i-phone."
Students from John Clem and Ben Franklin turned their attention to chickens.
Mary Jane Holloway, Azaiah Harris, Lydia Bawi and Christ Thawng won second place for "The Doodle House." Other students produced projects called "The Stink No More," "The Chicken Alarm," "The Feather Eater," "Don't Crack 'Em," "Keep 'Em Caged" and "The Sleeping Chicks."
Hampton Hardy and Lilli Morgan, fourth graders from John Clem, presented their "Chicken Trainer" project, in which the chickens are confined to a maze for their safety.
"The second-leading cause of chickens dying is from predators," Hampton said. "You can build different mazes, based on size and species, but you have to train your own chickens."
Lilli really liked making all the papers that went with their display.
"This is so chickens won't get killed," she said. "You keep them going through the whole maze, and if they get tired, you give them food and water."
McGuffey students chose to deal with goats, and Addison Seasor and Keara Clady took third place for "Vacoop," while Maddy Galiher and Isabella Findlay were fourth with "The Great Goat Goodie Bag." Other titles included "Go Go Goat Cheese," "Scat Trap," "The Goat Tray," "Goat Breath Mints," "Slick Goat" and "Intoystructable."
Newark City Schools received guidance, support and assistance for the pitch challenge from Education Projects, the Ohio Afterschool Network, VentureLab and the Young Entrepreneur Institute, after they were selected last fall to hold the event.
The ultimate goal is to enter the National Pitch Competition this summer.
"That is still the plan," Hinkle said.
Newark's Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge was sponsored by the Ohio Soybean Council and Battelle. More of them are planned moving forward.
This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Making their pitch: Newark students propose innovations to 'shark pool'