Young entrepreneurs and inventors shined at the Heroes for Harlingen Shark Tank finale held at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District administrative building on May 24.
Following the format of the hit ABC show, students from Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy pitched their creations to a panel of inquiring judges in hopes of securing an investment to bring their products to market.
Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos took the opportunity to speak to the groups before they presented.
“You’re getting an experience like none other at Dr. Abraham P. Cano Academy,” said Dr. Cavazos. “Don’t ever underestimate the lessons that you are learning here and the opportunities you are receiving. It’s important to be able to collaborate, be given opportunities to communicate, think critically, and to create. The 4 C’s – Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication – are our focus at Harlingen CISD, and they are skills that will serve you well as you move on to postsecondary education.”
In collaboration with their team members, students presented solutions to solve real-world scenarios, such as providing stress relief, recycling rainwater, and saving infant lives.
For Ravin Saldana, this gave her the opportunity to implement an idea that she has held close to her heart since sixth grade.
“When I was in sixth grade, I heard on the news that a parent had left their child in a hot car, and the child passed away as a result,” said Saldana. “This broke my heart. I started thinking of a way to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”
Saldana and her team member, Rudy Cavazos, put their heads together to create their product, Baby’s Little Hero Car Seat, which is equipped with a mat that has pressure and heat sensors along with GPS to alert EMS and police when a child is left in a hot vehicle.
The culminating event featured the top 24 competitors, who were selected to compete out of nearly 400 students in the Business & Industry Endorsement track at Cano Academy.
With only 10 days to prepare to face the Sharks, Karina Lopez, an English teacher and advisor on the Shark Tank project, provided students with valuable feedback so they could perfect their products and presentations.
“I didn’t hold anything back when critiquing their projects because I knew that the Sharks wouldn’t either,” said Lopez. “Our students had great ideas. They tackled real issues like preventing the deaths of young children in hot vehicles. That’s what our industry is supposed to be about, solving problems in our world.”
“Our group had to rebuild our product twice, but after a few talks and a couple of healthy arguments about what to do, we got it to work,” said Alex Torres. “I learned a lot about collaboration and how businesses work. It was a lot of fun and a valuable experience.”
Torres, along with team members Isaiah Molina and Jyammari Moore, aimed to solve a gutter problem on campus. When rainwater falls steadily, it accumulates on a particular spot and could potentially kill the grass beneath the gutter. To address the problem, the group devised a plan to redirect the water collected by the gutters for use elsewhere on campus.
“Our project is called the Upstream Water Filtration,” said Torres. “There would be a container under the ground and the water stored in there is purified, and then tubes that can suck the air pressure out take the water up through a tube. We could then redirect that water to a restroom, sink, or water fountain.”
Ravin Saldana and Rudy Cavazos took first place with their creation, Baby’s Little Hero Car Seat. Bother Ball, a stress- relief product created by John Duncan and Mallory Brownell, took second place. The Upstream Water Filtration group, which consists of Isaiah Molina, Jyammari Moore, and Alex Torres, took third place.
Judging the event were local business professionals Nick Consiglio from Texas Regional Bank, Francisco Castellanos from Chick-fil-A, Carlos Quevedo from Lone Star National Bank, David Flinn from Ferris & Flinn LLC, and Sergeant Alfredo Alvear from Harlingen Police Department.
The Shark Tank event is a direct outcome of the Teacher Externships, a component of the Heroes for Harlingen program.
For more information on HCISD, please visit HCISD.org.