Desert Sands Unified School District has its own version of the popular television show Shark Tank. This version — Goldfish Bowl — invites students and their teachers to apply for the opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas for education to local business celebrities.

The program began last year with two highly successful Goldfish Bowls. This school year, two additional events have been planned with the first, which took place Nov. 27. The next edition is scheduled for March 26.

A total of nine Desert Sands Unified School District projects were submitted. A review of the submissions was conducted by senior staff with five selected to move forward.

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The Goldfish aka senior staff

The Goldfish arrived and listened to each of the five pitches, asking questions, deliberating, and then awarding up to $4,000 should they believe that the projects met the stated criteria of: must be presented by a team of Desert Sands Unified School District students and teacher(s); be innovative (new invention or creative adaptation or iteration); demonstrate student input; have a potential benefit to the district’s LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan); be sustainable for a prolonged period of time; and be replicable in other classrooms or at other schools.

A team of eight Goldfish have been assembled by the district for this enviable task. Six of the eight were able to participate in the November edition. Taking their places to listen to the pitches were Kelly Steward, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage; Kathleen McEntee, founder and president of Kathleen McEntee and Associates, Ltd., a full-service marketing firm; John Hoffner, retired executive vice president and chief financial officer of Jack in the Box, Inc.; Joe Wallace, CEO and chief innovation officer for CVEP (Coachella Valley Economic Partnership); Cirenia Guerrero, local radio personality and entrepreneur; and Tim Bradley, aka the Desert Storm, five-time boxing champion. The two additional judges, joining us for the March event, are Mike Napoli, Founding and Current President, Tech Coast Angels, Inland Empire Network; and Brandon Weimer, co-founder and owner of Brandini Enterprises.

Innovative projects presented came from four DSUSD schools.

Eagles SOAR to Graduation, Amistad High School

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Eagles Soar

The creation of a student-led, staff-facilitated program empowering students to encourage peers to meet the goal of graduation. SOAR stands for successful, open-minded, active learners, who are respectful both on campus and in the community and rewards them for attendance and participation while welcoming them into the school environment.

Katie Stahl and Deborah Parra, teachers

Andrina Aguirre and Matthew Castrejon, students

Award: $4,000 to be awarded in four installments as the program grows during the 2018-2019 school year.

 

Mindfulness Project, Amistad High School

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Mindfulness Project

The Mindfulness Room will be a place for students to go when they are anxious. Students can utilize the services of the Mindfulness Room in order to increase focus through self-reflection and self-management.

Katie Stahl, teacher and Maureen Misuraca, school therapist

Dinora Castillo and Ray Vega, students

Award: $4,000 and the promise of assistance and involvement from the spa at the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage.

 

Picture Perfect, Dr. Reynaldo J. Carreon Jr. Academy

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Picture Perfect

This project will provide students at Dr. Carreon Academy with their first yearbook club. Funding for this project will allow for the purchasing of equipment so that students can create their yearbook using digital learning opportunities.

Kaitlin Newland, Intervention Specialist

Raeannah Gonzalez, Jonathan Aguilar, Emiliano Barajas,

Anitzi Zarco, fifth-grade students

Award: $4,000

 

Sphero Project, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School

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Sphero Project

Sphero Bolt Balls are small robots that can be reprogrammed over and over again to run on student-designed courses. Students will use the robots to learn coding while working collaboratively with their classmates.

Beckie Poirier, teacher

Vicente Chapula-Stock, fifth-grade student, and Sven George, Morgan Bezuidenhout, and Samantha Estrella, fourth-grade students

Award: $4,000 with the request that students return to the March event ready to showcase their work with the Sphero Bolt Balls

 

ALERTech Learning Indicator, La Quinta High School

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ALERTech Learning Indicator

Students at LQHS will design and build a product intended to “stimulate student metacognition, expand classroom conversation and feedback, and allow students to have a voice about their learning needs.” The design consists of a colored LED light, a rod to support it, a main structure to house batteries and button functions and, possibly, a removal clip. The devices will be placed on desks/tables and promote real-time feedback of student understanding and progress.

Maureen Wiser, teacher

Dylan Hypes, Morgan Short, Kelly Kloss, Erica Collins, 10th-grade students

Award: $300 with a request by the Goldfish for the students to use the funding to build a prototype, to Beta test it, and to come back in March to request additional funding based on their success.