The publication of this Think Tank to Shark Tank: From Engineering to Entrepreneurship guide is the culmination of a process that spanned the periods from February 2014 to August 2020. In the summer of 2014, staff in the H.K. Barker Center for Economic Education partnered with STEM Education faculty in the College of Education at The University of Akron to design and implement a youth day camp that blended engineering and entrepreneurship. For the next six years, faculty and staff fine-tuned and adapted instructional objectives and activities to formulate hands-on, problem-based materials. This curriculum that blends an entrepreneurial mindset with the engineering design process sets out to spark students’ (gr. 7-12) curiosity. Learning sessions focus on: What’s the best way to think of and engineer a new product or service? And, how does someone successfully launch and grow a business as an entrepreneur?

The formal curriculum writing and review teams began its work in the spring of 2019 thanks in part to the generous support of Burton D. Morgan Foundation. Twenty middle and secondary teachers were selected to participate in a 2019 Summer Think Tank to Shark Tank Institute, and their feedback and guidance was critical to the design, review, and revision of this curriculum. Institute educators that contributed their professional knowledge, pedagogical expertise, creativity and commitment included:

  • Erin Bowman
  • Keisha Davenport      
  • Julia Goersmeyer    
  • Suzy Hirsh   
  • Chet Jarosz 
  • Cathleen Klingsmith
  • Becky Kovesci 
  • Amanda O'Mara
  • Keagan O'Mara
  • Amy Pendleton
  • Morgan Schumacher
  • Monica Shrader
  • Constance Smith-Clemens
  • Rebecca Troyer
  • Nick Valentino
  • Melanie Van Meter
  • Virginique Whitmore
  • And Others.

The H.K. Barker Center for Economic Education also acknowledges the support of Karen Plaster (Co-Founder of Think Tank to Shark Tank: From Engineering to Entrepreneurship), Lynne Pachnowski (Lead Curriculum Writer), Cheyenne Oechsle (Student Assistant), Nadine Salem (Design and Formatting), and Ethan Plaster (Videographer). Finally, special recognition is offered to The University of Akron’s LeBron James Family Foundation School of Education in Akron, OH for the for use of their facilities and technical support.


Produced with funds provided by Burton D. Morgan Foundation


*Think Tank to Shark Tank: From Engineering to Entrepreneurship is in no way affiliated with, associated with, or endorsed by Sony Corporation or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.