Cumulative Project Inspired by ABC's Hit TV Show, Shark Tank
12th Grade Economics
For this assignment, students transform ordinary classroom objects into marketable and profitable products using only their imagination. They then research the market and potential demand for their product and conduct focus group tests.s. Next, they calculate costs of production and projected supply and demand of their product. The whole project culminates into a research essay and a final presentation. In the final presentation, students are required to bring in a prototype, advertisements, and displays and pitch their idea to a group of "sharks" (teachers) with the hopes of negotiating a deal. This project is intended to be completed over a period of 3-4 weeks concurrently with the supply and demand unit.
This project is divided into 8 parts:
Introduction. Watch episodes of Shark Tank. I usually show 2 episodes before beginning the project. I also provide this vocabulary reference sheet for students who may not be familiar with the terms used in the show.
Once students understand the premise of Shark Tank and have a grasp on concepts of supply, demand, production costs, etc. introduce the cumulative project using these guidelines.
Part 1. Divide students into 5-8 groups of no more than 4 and distribute random classroom objects (stapler, globe, tissue, sweater, hat, book, etc.). The more random, the better. Encourage students to use their imagination to turn them into profitable goods or services (i.e. a desk can be a kiosk for some type of service). Once students have an idea of what their cash cows will be, send them to the computer lab (or if you trust them to use their cell phones to access the internet) for research using the handout as a guideline (fill out 1-9).
Students will provide 6 possible price points at which they are willing and able to sell their product and record them in the “Price” column of the demand schedule at the top of the page. They will have an opportunity to pitch their product to their classmates who will then, by a show of hands, indicate the quantity demanded at each price point. Students will record the data in the “Quantity Demanded” column at the top of the page after which they will be allowed to ask classmates 3 questions about their connection to the product.
Part 2: Using what they have learned about factors of demand, students will research their market to list potential risks and benefits to their businesses.
Parts 3 and 4: Students go to the computer lab to research raw materials, costs of production, labor, and all supply side related factors of their businesses. This portion of the project is probably the most technical and therefore difficult for students. Preface this part with your own examples and review learned concepts of land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship.
Part 5: Students figure out a reasonable retail price for their product(s) using what they learned about supply, demand, competitive pricing, and the market equilibrium.
Part 6: Company valuation and forming a negotiation strategy for an investment from the sharks.
Part 7. Now that students have gathered enough research and data in parts 1-6, they will type up their final group essay using the essay guideline. Review expectations, due dates, etc. before allowing students to break into groups. Remind students to equitably divide the essay into sections for which they will be responsible. Instruct them to designate one person to collect all the parts of the essay and combine them into one coherent document. Allow 2 full periods for students to type their essays in the computer lab. This is plenty of time to draft, peer edit, revise and print their essays. Whatever they don't finish in class should be homework.
Have students read aloud and critique the 2 sample essays against the essay guideline/rubric. This student submission, even with its grammatical and spelling errors, is probably one of my favorites.
Sample Essay 2
Part 8: Students will work on strategy and presentation for their big investment meetings with the sharks. Encourage them to think about the tough questions sharks will have for them. Make sure they know their numbers and marketing strategy. Also, they will need presentation materials. Have students create a 3D Model or draft a blueprint of their designs for their product. If you're a baller teacher or work at a baller school, distribute modeling clay, paper, and other craft items for them to use. If you worked at a school like mine, encourage your students to get creative. My students created Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, brought in promotional items, and produced commercials.
Presentation Day: SHARK TANK! Allow 2-3 full periods for Shark Tank. Student presentations will be limited to 2 minutes with a 3-5 minute Q and A/negotiation. The sharks will be composed of teachers, administrators, T.A.'s or even parents, preferably those who are familiar with the show and know what questions to ask and can play hardball with the students. Send an email to your colleagues at least 1 week ahead of time with a shared sign up sheet (I prefer Google docs). Optional: provide an incentive (maybe extra credit) for students to land their original deal.