With just 14 days to rapidly prototype a solution to a real-world problem, St. Margaret’s grade 7 students put their entrepreneurial spirit to work as they pursued original ideas that would make a positive change in the world during the “Tartan Tank” science unit.
Their project fit into one of three themes—heal the world, fuel the world or feed the world—and they shared their prototype with the school community during Demo Day last week. Many were later pitched to judges, much like the hit TV show Shark Tank.
“Tartan Tank allows students to be creators, and not just consumers, of technology and science,” said Middle School science teacher Eric Harrington, who runs the unit. “Not only are they creating and pursuing their own ideas that apply what they’re learning in science, but through this unit, they are recognizing that they have the power to solve problems and make a difference in the world.”
This year’s Tartan Tank had a “design sprint” format, where students had a compressed window of class time to go through the design-thinking process and formulate entrepreneurial ideas, interview end users, gain insight from experts, develop pitches and construct wireframes and prototypes of their product.
Demo Day allowed students to pitch their project and answer questions from faculty, staff, parents and fellow students about the need their product fulfills and the future potential of their idea. In addition, 17 of the projects were pitched to judges with science and technology backgrounds later in the week.
The creative ideas were plentiful and wide-ranging. Among them, there was an umbrella that cleverly collects rainwater for re-use, a water filter that provides safe and easier access to clean drinking water, a shoe that generates power, and a system that uses fish aquariums to fertilize vegetables. An idea to help the homeless population through the installation of vending machines with free necessities recently got the attention of Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia
“There were so many great ideas that came out of the Tartan Tank this year,” Mr. Harrington said. “Our students really stepped up and met the challenge they were faced with. I’m very proud of the work they did.”