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The Desert Sands USD Goldfish Bowl logo, designed by Jan Diaz.
Students pitch projects to ‘goldfish’ funders
February 1, 2021
You’ve heard of “Shark Tank,” the hit TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to some well-known investors. Well, Desert Sands Unified School District has launched its own version — but with a kinder, gentler fish.
The DSUSD Goldfish Bowl gives funding to student projects that help their schools and serve as models for others. Students and teachers submit detailed project descriptions about initiatives to senior district staff members. Then the top five are brought before a panel of community leaders — the “goldfish.” This has been done in person each year since the program began over four years ago. However, the Dec. 16, 2020 event became a virtual competition based on video submissions.
This competition’s panel of goldfish included Kathleen McEntee, founder and president of Kathleen McEntee and Associates Ltd., a marketing services company; John Hoffner, retired CEO and EVP of Jack in the Box, Inc.; Joe Wallace, CIO of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership; local attorney and community leader Amir Afsar; and boxing champion and community leader Timothy Bradley, Jr.
Goldfish decide on the amount, up to $3,000 per award, and the money is provided by DSUSD Local Control Accountability Plan funding for innovation.
Superintendent Scott Bailey opened the video presentation by noting that projects are selected for their innovative concepts and also for replicability at other sites. “The Goldfish Bowl serves as an innovations hub that melds student voice with community engagement toward better outcomes for students,” he said.
The winners of this edition of Goldfish Bowl include:
I.C.P. (Imagine, Code, Print) — James Monroe Elementary School: The teachers and students were looking for a 3-D printer and supplies. This STEM-focused school plans to provide access to its fifth graders for computer engineering, mathematics, and creating their own small businesses. There seems to be some thought about building their own printer. The ask was for $1,019 but the goldfish awarded $2,000 for the additional supplies.
Enhancing Literacy through Media — Andrew Jackson Elementary School: Students creatively told a tale while asking for financial support to purchase a touchscreen high-powered computer to bring student vision to life as they used digital media to create their stories. The equipment will assist with and enhance coding, digital animations, video, and 3D designs. Technology would include a 3-D printer and a video camera. They were awarded $3,000.
The Future of SHHS ESports — Shadow Hills High School: The students of the ESports Club requested the maximum award of $3,000 to purchase additional computers and games. This equipment will prepare students for meets, especially those who do not have the technology at home. As goldfish Joe Wallace pointed out, this is a fast-growing industry with multiple college scholarships available to players. The project received the full $3,000.
Wellness Hub — Indio Middle School: This request looks to expand the concept of restorative practices and intervention instituted in the 2019-20 school year. It became clear that students looking to receive intervention assistance first needed to get in trouble to receive help. The Wellness Hub offers these students a safe and calm space. It helps develop student leaders in working with peers to control emotions. It further offers teachers an opportunity to replicate the opportunity within their classrooms. The project was funded at the requested $1,480.
Humans of LQHS — La Quinta High School: This student-directed submission asked for $1,092 to create banners by the photojournalism students. Four large banners would detail the reason for the project with 25 smaller banners featuring candid photos of students and staff, along with brief descriptions, throughout the campus. The goal is to bring the school community closer together with empathy and understanding. The goldfish felt that this project should be extended beyond the school grounds and into the local community. They funded the project at $3,000, a $1,908 increase in the ask. They then challenged the students to involve the city of La Quinta and the surrounding area.
Watch the introduction of the projects and the presentation of awards at
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