Several months ago, this article was devoted to a report on a unique Desert Sands Unified School District innovations contest titled Goldfish Bowl and congratulated our fall winners.

Based on concepts found on the popular television show Shark Tank, a group of “judges” listen to the proposals of five groups of students and teachers to consider the merits of the projects based on innovation, student input and participation, the potential benefit to the district’s LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan), sustainability, and if the project can be replicated at other schools or classrooms. Cash awards of up to $4,000 per project are then available for distribution to the Goldfish Bowl competitors. The competition, which draws upwards of 19 applications per contest, supports creativity and innovation.

In case you don’t remember, the program is titled Goldfish Bowl because our judges (sharks) are a gentler, kinder group of community members who cheer on our students with support and advice. Furthermore, the word “bowl” has been used for academic and athletic competitions in the education world for many years. How appropriate to put the two together in a unique modeling of Shark Tank!

DSUSD Boardroom filled

The DSUSD boardroom is filled with parents and supporters to cheer on their favorite innovations

Goldfish Bowl was first initiated in the 2017-2018 school year. The popular program was brought back for this school year. Two competitions were held the first year and two this year.

Our eight goldfish are a team of community members who share the enviable task of encouraging our students. This year’s goldfish included: DSUSD parent Tim Bradley, Jr., world champion boxer and local restaurant owner; Joe Wallace, chief innovation officer, Coachella Valley Economic Partnership; Kathleen McEntee, founder and president of Kathleen McEntee and Associate; former Jack In The Box executive John F. Hoffner; local media celebrity Cirenia Guerrero; Mike Napoli, founding and current president of Tech Coast Angels; and Kelly Steward, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage. Due to their busy schedules not all goldfish participated in both events.

Audience members

The audience has the right spirit.

Submissions for consideration come from throughout the district’s 35 schools and they are narrowed down to the five to participate in Goldfish Bowl. The applications continue to grow in number and present some outstanding and worthwhile ideas and suggestions. Goldfish Bowl will again be held twice during the next school year with some other exciting additions to the concept.

The second Goldfish Bowl of this year brought us additional exciting projects and ideas. Congratulations to the following recipients. Included are the name of the school, the project name, amount awarded, and the descriptive information provided in their submission.

Amelia Earhart Elementary School, K-2 Coding Club ($3,207-actual cost of the requested equipment): This project would allow us to offer a coding club two times a week, for one hour at a time. Students would be able to learn the basics of coding and then more complex coding. Students will learn how to solve problems, collaborate, and be innovative with their coding and projects. It will prepare students for the robotics program in middle school. It will also increase mastery of literacy and science standards as students will work on coding projects and turn them into stories.

Goldfish Bowl

The La Quinta High School presentation.

La Quinta High School, Digital Journalism ($4,000): The LQHS Multimedia Club is not a typical CTE based program. The Multimedia Club is rooted in an expressed student need, met by innovative student leaders, and based on the shifting culture of students that is focused on visual language. It seeks to equip students with the ability to interact and engage with vlogging, and informal forms of video language, as well as digital art in a culture of online “makers”. With a brief initial funding we will be able to create a strong foundation to propel this club to the next level where students can be given access to necessary technology that will allow them to submit to student film festivals, international film festivals, and to learn skills that equip them to continue growing in a professional setting. With an initial $4000 investment this equipment can be purchased and maintained for roughly four years, and support 30-150 students each year.

Palm Desert High School, Office Hours ($4,000): Office Hours is a campus-wide academic intervention and enrichment program designed for the teacher and student to use a specific time during the school day for the purpose of re-teaching, tutoring, study groups, make-ups, test corrections, and enrichment. Office Hours will help students become more responsible for their learning and take ownership of their own education. Goldfish Bowl would help fund the purchase of the barcode readers necessary for the effective use of the already purchased software system.

Goldfish Bowl

Goldfish Cirenia Guerrero and Mike Napoli inspect the cane envisioned by a La Quinta Middle School student.

La Quinta Middle School, GPS Cane ($2,000): Our STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) middle school has, for the second year in a row, held their own version of Shark Tank/Goldfish Bowl, also with community involvement. One of the projects that received considerable enthusiasm from their event was the prototype of the G.P.C. A single student, working with a teacher at the school came up with the idea. Goldfish suggested that she research the idea of the product to determine if there was something similar already in existence and funded the creation of a prototype. Her submission read: The G.P.C. is unlike any other ordinary cane. It allows the user to know where they are at all times and know what is ahead of them. The cane will detect objects ahead, track your location, and allow loved ones to see where you are. It uses a special Bluetooth earpiece and loved ones can hook the GPS to their phones.

Goldfish Bowl

A rap video and branded tee shirts helped teachers and students from Harry S. Truman Elementary School to convince the goldfish that their project was worth funding.

Harry S. Truman Elementary School, Virtual Reality ($4000): This submission came as a student “rap” video that easily convinced the goldfish to fund their project. Some of student quotes on why the project should be considered were: “VR goggles are sustainable and will not require more funding. We will pass the sets to various classrooms and grade levels.” VR goggles will create globally minded and responsible citizens.” “VR goggles provide rigorous and relevant instruction. This will ignite student curiosity, excitement, and motivation for learning.”

Goldfish Bowl

Truman Award

The video reminded all of us that this technology can bring students to any place on the globe to learn more about the culture and climate.

To learn more about student use of technology and innovation, join us at Front & Center from 6:30-7:00 pm, on Tuesday, May 7, at the District Education Center in La Quinta.

Lead photo caption: An Amelia Earhart student demonstrates what coding funding could provide

Image Sources

  • DSUSD Boardroom filled: DSUSD
  • Audience members: DSUSD
  • La Quinta High School presentation: DSUSD
  • Goldfish Bowl cane: DSUSD
  • Harry S. Truman Elementary: DSUSD
  • Goldfish: DSUSD