Kids jump into 'Shark Tank' to learn business

(WEAU) - One local middle school used the idea of a ‘Shark Tank’ to help kids learn the fundamentals of running a business.

It’s based on the reality TV show called ‘Shark Tank,’ which involves a panel of sharks or entrepreneurs who are presented with different products or businesses. They can then choose to invest or decline.

Now, a social studies teacher at Delong Middle School has turned into a lifelong lesson.

"Whenever you're ready,” said Teri Piper Thompson, Partnership Coordinator at Delong Middle School.

It was a fish eat fish world at Delong Middle school. Students were asked to design a teen club to present to a panel of volunteer sharks.

"Within our social studies curriculum we teach an economics unit and our curriculum is designed to give kids an introduction to entrepreneurship and building a business and partnered with Junior Achievement,” said Jennifer Birkholz, 7th grade Social Studies Teacher.

Birkholz says her 7th graders had seen the show and immediately got on board; she just needed sharks.

"I watch 'Shark Tank' so I'm kind of aware of how it all works," said Piper Thompson.

That's where Teri Piper Thompson came in along with parents, principals and volunteers with Junior Achievement.

"I was trying not to be too much of a shark, because if you watch that show sometimes they get a little nasty, realizing they're 7th graders. I was trying to tone it down," said Thompson.

Groups designed floor plans, planned marketing and explained investments sharks could make.

"I think when you build a business, it's a lot of information and so this has been a good experience for them to realize how difficult it is to build a business," said Birkholz.

Sharks followed up with questions and graded the students.

"I think anytime you can get kids to think on their feet, that’s a phenomenal skill for everyone to have."

"We've talked about some businesses that have closed in Eau Claire and other businesses that have been around awhile, so I hope they have a respect for people who run those businesses," said Birkholz.

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