Student teams immersed in “Shark Tank”

hickman-mills-studentsTeams of fifth and sixth grade students from the Hickman Mills C-1 School District who participated in a camp at the UMKC School of Education this week were heralded for their ingenuity in developing products that would be life-changing for the community.


Patterned after the “Shark Tank” reality television show, UMKC undergraduate and graduate education students served as teachers and instructional coaches as the soon-to-be middle school students worked in teams to identify problems, design solutions and working prototypes, and research costs to mass produce their products.


At the conclusion of the week-long camp, students presented their proposals to “shark” experts/investors: Dr. Dennis Carpenter, superintendent of Hickman Mills School District; Dr. Carl Skinner, deputy superintendent; Ms. LaTanya Franklin, director of curriculum and instruction; Dr. Chris Brown, professor and chair at the UMKC School of Education; and Dr. LaVerne Berkel, associate dean and associate professor in the School of Education.


Ideas presented included “trash tables” for recycling and disposing of school lunchtime waste to minimize spills on the floor and lessen the need for custodians, GPS tracking embedded in sports equipment (such as golf balls, basketballs) to assist in locating lost or stolen items, a revolutionary prison system focused on counseling services for drug offenders, and biodegradable “Clean Ups: The shower on the go!” for multi-age use when shower facilities are not available or to save on water bills.


The sharks presented the Best Product Award to the self-monikered Barf Bucket team for the GPS tracking sports equipment.


Audience feedback was that all student participants had great passion, were informative and developed “reasonable answers and marketable products”.  The Audience Choice Award went to the “Clean Ups,” developed by team The Crew.


Dr. Skinner congratulated the student participants and their parents for their dedication to the camp’s project-based learning and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) education, which provides an enhanced and rigorous learning experience.  “The best job we can do for our students is to help them think critically,” he said, noting that similar project-based learning will be expanded within the district.


Dr. Mike Camp, principal at C.A. Burke Elementary School, and Ms. Leah Panther, instructor of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies at the UMKC School of Education, were instrumental in bringing the summer learning experience to fruition.  According to Panther, “This week showcased the best Kansas City has to offer. The partnership with Hickman Mills created an authentic project-based learning opportunity for urban students, an opportunity to showcase the excellent teacher candidates our school is preparing, and also provide our young people with a voice within our community.”