Middle School News

Global Connections Marketplace projects get a Shark Tank boost

Posted on May 9, 2017 by Scot Allen

Project-Based Learning and Design Thinking strategies form the core of the Mid-Pacific Middle School experience. These techniques also lend themselves to the spirit of entrepreneurship, as sixth grade students found out this week when they met Mai Lieu, a success story from season seven of the Shark Tank TV reality show.

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Lieu is the founder of CreaProducts and invented the CreaClip. She was on Season 7 of Shark Tank (Episode 27) and earned a funding deal with one of the sharks (investors). She is passionate about inspiring others to follow their dreams and sharing her secrets of success, according to her website.

Lieu is a close friend (and former roommate) of middle school teacher Sumoha (Jani) Min. The two met at a leadership development course. "I was looking for a new place to live and friends introduced me to Mai, and so that's how we connected... through a community of leadership cohorts," Min said.

Lieu talked about her journey, her career, the ups and downs of social media, and then guided the students to create their own dream board in a hands-on exercise. Min also "volunteered" to have her hair trimmed using one of Lieu's products in front of the students.

Sixth graders are working on their end-of-the-year Global Connections projects. According to Min, The students each select a global issue. To raise awareness of their global issue--be it refugees or education or Carbon Dioxide emissions--they were then coached through the design thinking process to develop a product and to sell that product at the Mid-Pacific Marketplace during lunch periods this week.

Most of the students take to the entrepreneurship process very well, according to Min. Sometimes they get frustrated when no one buys what they want to make. Lieu addressed this frustration.

"I know the struggles she has gone through," Min said. "I know how many times she has failed. I know how many avenues she has continued to explore in order to be successful. What I hope came across is that failure--or not getting it right the first time, or the second time, or the third time--is part of the process."

Min said that this frustration is probably the most difficult part for students, but also the greatest opportunity for learning. "School is a safe and fun way to say 'well, that didn't work, maybe there is something else I could try,'" Min said.

The planning, the prototypes and entrepreneurship all paid off this week. "Her visit was such a gift for the kids," Min said. "It's good stuff."