A pitch to set up a lemonade stand tossed a group of second-graders into the “shark tank” Friday at Brookside Elementary School.
The entire second grade of the Baldwin school, 42 students in all, proposed “Second Aid Lemonade,” a lemonade business venture, to four school administrators or “sharks,” in a mini-version of the ABC entrepreneurial show, in front of parents and guardians.
Walking into the school's gymnasium to the show's iconic theme song, the students dressed in all yellow outfits, and asked the “sharks” for an $85 investment.
The young entrepreneurs then presented a slideshow of their business proposal, including a commercial on a large screen to superintendent Shari L. Camhi, assistant superintendent for instruction Anthony Mignella, school principal Anne Marie Squicciarini, and PTA president Raquel Stephenson.
The grade planned to sell lemonade every Friday of February in the school for $1.50 a cup. All proceeds of the lemonade stands will go toward Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness and supports families to help cure pediatric cancer.
Kennedy St. Pierre, 7, who was featured in the commercial, said she liked learning about video production and using a green screen with the school's videographer, Michelle Kourie.
“It was super fun and I'm glad I got to hang out with my friends,” she said.
The presentation stemmed from the grade's economic unit, where students learn about budgeting, taxes, how businesses operate, and other skills of financial literacy. The curriculum is part of the initiative “Baldwin 2035" where district schools are encouraged to envision how learning will look like in the year 2035 and what skills students need in the future.
Second-grade teachers Lauren Maywald, Kristin Maldonado, and Morgan Maus said this is the school's second year teaching the unit. But creating the business was not in the curriculum, and students came up with the idea themselves.
The inspiration to do a "Shark Tank"-like presentation came when one student pointed out that their lesson was similar to the show. Most students did not know what “Shark Tank” was, but wanted to learn more, and became hooked after they watched one episode in school, said Maywald.
They also came up with their own budget for the products, said Maldonado, and researched stores that would “get them the best deal.”
“One of our taglines, is 'Students As Producers', ” said Camhi. “As students, what can we produce to show the learning that's happened, something very tangible. And so you can't get more tangible than this, right?”
The students were then divided into three groups based on their preferences: advertising, which made flyers and a commercial that was played during the presentation; graphic design, which created the logos and artwork for the business; and marketing, which developed the product.
“The thing that we're most proud of is the fact that the students were so intrinsically motivated from this whole project,” said Maywald. “They're just so excited about it. And I think they're getting everybody at Brookside School excited.”
The civic mindset angle was also the student's idea. The economics unit also coincided with their “character pillars” curriculum, where students learned about the value of empathy.
The students conducted their own research on charities to donate to. When they learned about Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, created by 8-year-old cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott in 1996, the students related to her story.
“If this isn't empathy, I don't know what is,” said Maywald.
After a one-minute shark huddle, Camhi and Squicciarini agreed to donate $25 each to the business, and Mignella and Stephenson said they would split the difference, giving the young entrepreneurs the funds to create the lemonade stand.
“We hope that our kids, when they graduate high school, will be smart, independent, and also will have a sense of what it means to be a civic minded person,” said Camhi. “I saw all those components here.”