Grade 7 students Sophia Bunnell and Maya Reddy are working on an entrepreneurial project that addresses the needs of the homeless population as part of St. Margaret’s Tartan Tank science unit.
This week, the two had the opportunity to pitch their idea to Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia.
“He was interested in what we had to say,” Sophia said. “He was familiar with the challenges we were trying to address and asked us to put together a business plan after hearing our pitch.”
Sophia and Maya are interested in bringing a program started by a United Kingdom nonprofit to Southern California. The program alleviates poverty and hardship among the homeless by installing vending machines that provide free necessities such as food, water, clothing and toothbrushes.
Their project came together as part of the grade 7 Tartan Tank interdisciplinary unit run by Middle School science teacher Eric Harrington, which combines science, technology, engineering and entrepreneurship and encourages the creation of problem-solving ideas through the design thinking process.
Sophia and Maya put together a pitch deck that explained their idea, its success in other cities and why urban areas with a homeless population would benefit from the program. During the meeting at Long Beach City Hall, Mr. Garcia and his senior advisor, Daniel Brezenoff, provided feedback to Sophia and Maya based on their experience as civic leaders, which Sophia and Maya will take into account as they continue to develop their idea.
“Meeting with the mayor of a big city to pitch an idea is not an easy thing to do, but Sophia and Maya were prepared and did a great job,” Mr. Harrington said. “They received valuable feedback that will help them as they continue to refine their Tartan Tank idea.”
This year’s Tartan Tank unit included a 14-day “design sprint” where students solved a real-world problem and developed their entrepreneurial idea through user interviews, “ask an expert” sessions and developing pitch decks, wireframes and prototypes. In addition, Peter Bryant, managing partner at Clareo and a St. Margaret’s parent, provided insight to students on the topic of inclusion and diversity in entrepreneurship and product development during a presentation earlier this month.
The grade 7 students will present their ideas at a Tartan Tank “demo day” on March 27 in the Middle School Courtyard. Teams can then choose to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in Mr. Harrington’s classroom on March 29.