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Columbia Students Win Big in the Shark Tank

Columbia Students Win Big in the Shark Tank
Posted on 05/12/2017
Michael King

Seven students competed May 9 for a $1,000 top prize at the Columbia High School version of the popular reality show “Shark Tank.” These student entrepreneurs presented their unique and innovative ideas for solutions to real world problems in an attempt to persuade a panel of “sharks” to fund their idea.

Winners were announced at the Columbia High School Golden Endurance Awards ceremony held the evening of May 11. Funded projects were:

Grand Prize Winner ($1,000): Michael King, sophomore - “Creating Independence for AMC”

AMC (arthrogryposis multiplex congenital) affects the mobility of a joint and/or muscles, creating extreme stiffness. King notes that one difficulty in restoring mobility is the inability to do physical therapy without assistance. His solution is a mechanical device that helps individuals perform physical therapy alone. With his invention, a person could potentially restore close to full mobility to their joints, resulting in a greater sense of hope and happiness.

First Runner Up ($500): Wayne Novich, freshman – “L.F.T.R. Environmental”

Support for nuclear energy is often overshadowed by other power sources, including wind and solar. Novich has an idea for a new reactor design called the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. In addition to being safer than a uranium reactor, he said it also is able to provide more power while producing no greenhouse gases. The waste from a Thorium Reactor is also reusable and decays 10x faster than the waste from a traditional reactor.

Second Runner Up ($250): Aileen McDaid, junior – “Farm to Table”

McDaid, who hopes to attend a culinary institute after graduating, proposed that the Nampa School District work directly with local farmers and ranchers to provide fresh produce and meat for use in school lunches. She believes this arrangement benefits both parties by supporting the local economy while providing more nutrient-rich meals. “We need food to survive,” she wrote in her proposal, “But life isn’t just about surviving, it’s about thriving.”

“The idea for this event was inspired by the creative thinking and problem solving we see from our students in classrooms daily,” said David Guymon, instructional technology coach at Columbia. “We wanted to create a platform to promote students voices and an outlet for their innovative ideas to be shared with a real-world audience. Not only did these budding entrepreneurs and scholars rise to the challenge, they far exceeded our expectations. What we saw in the CHS Shark Tank this year is inspiring and gave all who participated great hope for the future.”

Other proposals included:

Irene Vidales and Jared Lindsey: The Helper – a stuffed animal incorporating a device that would allow a person with depression or anxiety to have a therapeutic conversation.

Al Woods: Tip It! – an app for service workers designed to collect tips and help track and report income.

Alicia Cordova: Making an “A.F.F.E.C.T.” – a fundraising group that would help pay for school supplies and related expenses that teachers currently fund on their own.

Jennifer, Caleb, Colt and Luke: Stem Spinners – 3D-printed customized “fidget” devices used to help students who deal with anxiety.

The “shark” panel included:

  • Jewels Carpenter: Director, Career and Technical Education, Nampa School District
  • Nicole MacTavish: Acting Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Nampa School District
  • Gregg Russell: Faculty, Doceo Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, NNU
  • Sheena Strickler: Grant Coordinator, 21st Century Community Learning Center, Nampa School District
  • Kathleen Tuck: Director, Communications and Community Relations, Nampa School District