It’s all about encouraging young minds to innovate and invent — and what better place to do that than in the Dragon’s Den?
Modelling a project after CBC’s Dragon’s Den investment pitch show, students at Clover Bar Junior High School in Sherwood Park were tasked with creating and developing a solution to a real-world problem.
“We hosted our own ‘Dragon’s Den’ at the school to find out if our inventions really had legs,” explained Danny Fehr, a Grade 8 student at Clover Bar.
“It taught us failure is part of the process. We may have to try over and over again to get things right, but in the end, it’s what helps us learn and eventually succeed.”
Fehr is one of 31 students enrolled in the school’s “Investigate! Invent! Innovate!” (I3) class, a program aimed at fostering basic science, technology, engineering and math skills, while also encouraging students to think creatively, to problem-solve and to experiment.
“The course is designed to mimic the process inventors go through, from the moment they realize they have a unique idea, to when their innovation hits the market,” said Tara Yeo, the I3 teacher at Clover Bar.
At the start of the school year, students were asked to identify a problem in their daily lives and then, using skills they’ve learned in class, create a solution to the problem.
Teams of students worked for months designing, building and perfecting their inventions, with submissions ranging in theme from an adjustable foot rest, to a storage unit for sports equipment, to a holding and viewing unit for electronics.
Taking the process one step further, students were then tasked with developing marketing campaigns for their inventions, which would be used as part of their pitches to promote their new products.
To test each campaign, the school invited three local entrepreneurs to evaluate student inventions through the Dragon’s Den.
“The Dragons were so impressed by the inventions and quality of the pitches that they asked the top three teams to share their pitches with the broader business community,” Yeo said.
“I think what stood out for the Dragons was the time and effort put into each invention, which stems from the course focus: learning to think creatively, troubleshooting and making each iteration better than the last.”
The Dragons delivered on their promise, arranging a breakfast with the local business community, hosted by the Sherwood Park and District Chamber of Commerce.
Students refined their pitches and then presented them to an audience of roughly 50 local entrepreneurs.
“Everyone applauded the ideas and offered constructive, thoughtful advice on how to improve and even bring (the inventions) to market,” Yeo said.
“Some of the students are now thinking about their ideas beyond the scope of this class. You never know, you may see one or two of the student designs on the market one day.”