Saturday, May 30, 2020

The printing press, kinetoscope, typewriter, telephone, motion picture, radio and television—all the future of communications! That was the mindset of Carmel Academy’s sixth and seventh graders as they put themselves in the shoes of the inventors of history’s most important communication tools.

As a part of their unit on information revolutions, Carmel Academy’s middle school students each studied an important invention in history that was used to help spread information. They then took on the persona of an inventor, and worked with a partner to create a pitch for their invention, using the guidelines on the popular TV reality show Shark Tank.

Students presented their pitch, along with a model of their invention, to the “sharks” (Carmel teachers) in search of an investment to get their inventions into the mass market.

“With the help of you sharks, every American can access information to stay up-to-date on everyday topics. Television is the future of electronics,” said sixth grader Nathan Toback who was seeking a $10,000 investment which would equate to an $100,000 in today’s market.

“This feels very exciting. I feel like the future may be here,” said shark and Carmel Academy Principal Rebecca Hammerman, as she considered investing in television.

Fellow shark, middle school teacher Chrissy Valvano, had doubts. “Not everyone in America can afford one of these televisions. Who else will be your market?” she asked.

Middle school teacher and shark Toby Ring was also not convinced the television would have mass market appeal: “I don’t think this is the future. People will lose their creativity if they watch television.”

During their Shark Tank pitches the students explained how the technology worked, who their likely consumers would be, the costs to develop and expand the products as well as their marketing plan, including possible slogans, and taglines.

The sharks were savvy investors often peppering the inventors with questions, while negotiating for an increased share in the profits.

“We learned about a lot of inventions watching other people’s pitches and we learned a lot about investing in a product—how to prepare a pitch, figure out a fair price and what percentage of the company to give away,” said sixth grader Lyla Dynner.

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