Written by Grade 7 Life Science Teacher Larisa Pender-Healey
I challenge my life science students with this question: How might we, as agrotech entrepreneurs, design and build an innovative system to grow food in the year 3000, which will promote efficient use of resources in a time period predicted to have intensive climate change? Seventh grade students walked into this challenge not knowing the glass ceilings they would shatter with their creativity and lack of fear to fail.
In a nutshell, students formed startup teams whose intent was to gain funding in order to build a protoype of their food growing system. Students gained valuable feedback along the way from local agrotech experts and had an opportunity to spark ideas from a class field trip to the Museum of Design in Atlanta to see their “Food By Design” exhibit. The young entrepreneurs had the experience of a lifetime in designing a website, branding and marketing their business idea, creating a financial plan, designing a viable system to grow food for the future, and creating a Kickstarter-style video to seek funding for their prototype.
Examples of designs include an underground Airbnb aeroponics farm, reimagining skyscrapers to grow food, repurposing river walkways to grow food using aquaponics, and utilizing abandoned bomb shelters in Brazil to grow food using aquaponics.
To determine whether or not students were successful with their projects, they pitched their ideas to a panel of “sharks” in a Shark Tank-style showcase. The “sharks” included some of our Experts in Residence such as Amy Wilkes, Katie Cain, Max Hanson, Erin Carey, Meghan Cureton, Susan Oltman, Melody Wiggins, and T.J. Edwards. The panel also included two local agrotech experts, Mitchell Wilson, the CEO and Co-founder of Omniponics and Brian Moll, the Executive Chef at La Tavola.
I was able to determine this PBL a success, as soon as students began to ask me if they could revise their design and have “another go” at Shark Tank.