Sustainability Superheroes blog
Using Decision-making and Entrepreneurial Thinking
Mrs. Kara Windish is a middle school teacher at Learning Gate Community School in Lutz, Florida and is passionate about teaching sustainability to her students. With her school's focus on sustainability, environmental concepts are infused across the curriculum, even in subjects like Ancient World History!
This year, during her class on ancient civilizations, the students were given a challenge in the form of a Sumerian Shark Tank. The objective was to create a service or product that the ancient citizens would use to make their lives easier using the ideas of today. Sounds a lot like the regular Shark Tank, doesn't it? Well it's not! It's even better. During Kara's Shark Tank, students were not only trying to make money. They were trying to make the world a better place. This was a green and gold Shark Tank, where students infused green sustainability practices into their business plans and still were able to see the pot of gold!
The participants were required to include a sustainability plan. They were asked to find a problem in ancient Sumer that addressed one of the seven characteristics of civilization. From there, they created a product or a business that solved one of life's problems in that time. In addition, they were required to consider the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) when they were creating their businesses. They had to either to create a sustainable product or describe the sustainability practices that their company will adopt.
The sharks go through a rigorous process of training, anywhere from creating their own backstory and bio to discussing current jobs and salaries. Sharks are encouraged to watch several episodes of Shark Tank so they can find their personality. Each shark focuses on a characteristic of civilization so that the entrepreneurs have a shark in mind. In Sumerian Shark Tank, characteristics can include art, religion, farming, and architecture. The entrepreneurs pitch several products that fall into those categories.
The students are coached on how to make a sixty-second pitch to the sharks. In these sixty seconds, the sharks can decide whether they want to make an offer. So, it is important to have enthusiasm, confidence, and knowledge of your product. Students create original songs, slogans, dances, and outfits to stand out to the sharks and show their business creativity. The pitch laid out the percentage of the company they are willing to part with, as well as the money they are seeking from the sharks. This mathematical part of the activity is created in conjunction with the mathematics teacher, who is teaching percentages as part of their curriculum.
Products with Sustainable Ideas
Getting the Deal
When the sharks decided if the business was worth their money and time, a deal most likely was made. Most often deals were made when students were well-prepared, gave samples to the sharks, stated their sustainability practices, and of course, for the right price!
What They Learned
One of the things students noticed is that people were more sustainable in the past. As a result of this activity, they have started to include sustainability in their mindset of what businesses should be about. Now they are better equipped to go out into the world and critique and research businesses who practice sustainability. They learned that they have control over their decisions in the world. As wise consumers, students are more aware and asking questions about the sustainable practices of businesses. The students look forward to their next adventure: Silk Road Shark Tank.