The New School’s ‘Ark Tank’ to help determine entrepreneurialism curriculum

by Jamie Smith ([email protected]) 211 views 

A business competition among seventh-grade students at The New School will help school officials determine some of the school’s eighth-grade curriculum next year. “Ark Tank” was held Friday afternoon (April 15).

The New School, located in Fayetteville, is a coeducational, independent school with 380 students from toddler age through grade eight. Ninth grade will be added in August 2016 with one grade being added each year until they have a full high school program. The addition of the high school is response to population growth and a demand for a non-religious, independent education options for older students, according to a press release.

The competition, dubbed “Ark Tank” after the ABC hit Shark Tank, required student teams to develop a business idea including determining target market, associated costs, demand, and other components of a business plan. The five teams presented their concepts to a panel of business experts. The judges then asked questions. The questions ranged from tongue in cheek jokes to helpful, instructional questions that helped guide the students’ entrepreneurial thought process.

Panelist judges included: Rich Lawrence, vice Ppresident of Special Markets, Helen of Troy; Jeff Amerine, founding principal, Startup Junkie Consulting; Forrest Wood, founder, Ranger Boats; Jessica Boyd, executive director, Community Venture Foundation; and Dr. Lenka Fedorkova, New School parent and CEO of bioPrime.

The winning team’s concept will become the foundation for next year’s eighth-grade entrepreneurialism class, which fulfills the state requirement for eighth graders to have a college and career class.

Most schools simply teach students about resume building and related skills, said Dennis Chapman, president and head of school at The New School. Learning how to be entrepreneurs provides students a better preparation for the future, he said.

“At The New School we learn by doing,” he said. “We are preparing our students for jobs that don’t even exist today. We put a great deal of thought into creating classes and elective offerings which mirror real-world learning opportunities.”

This is the second year for Ark Tank. Last year’s winner came up with the idea Locklip, which is a clip that holds three-ring binder rings in alignment. It became cost prohibitive to produce an actual prototype, but the students were able to learn skills using a real-life example, Chapman said.

The winners for this year’s competition were Alice Cai and Pooja Kalyan, who created the business FreeHand Plate. The product would be a standard style paper plate with two notches that could be torn out to allow for fingers to grasp a cup as well as the plate. This would allow someone to hold a cup and plate with one hand. This product would be ideal in casual social settings such as a picnic or party.

The other business ideas were:
• Bros and Bows, a clothing company (second place);
• Bright Wipe Lens Cleaners (makes lens cleaning cloths of various styles);
• Love a Sand cat (would sell clothing and other items to support preservation of the sand cat); and
• The Ray Reader (a device that would emit an alarm when UV rays from the sun became too high for it to be safe outside).