Shark Bait: Eighth Graders Pitch to Panel of “Sharks”

Legnini’s entrepreneurial focus challenged students to think about this: the many hours spent on research and development would be devalued without a strong, creative, and well-informed pitch.

“Pitching their social networks is a really great way for them to practice presentation skills – not only to their peers, but also to adults,” says Legnini, drawing from his own experience in pitching his company over 60 times to various investors.

Legnini points out to his students that an essential skill all great presenters possess is the ability to speak off-the-cuff. He assures his class there are going to be questions they didn’t anticipate.

The “sharks” ask those questions to force students to think quickly and critically. “It’s important to feel that deer-in-the-headlights pressure and to think about what methods you can use to get past that to deliver a good answer,” explains Legnini. The classroom is the perfect setting for students to take those risks, stumble their way through it, and learn from that experience.

“I tell all my students they may not leave my classroom as entrepreneurs or expert coders, but they are going to leave with problem solving and critical thinking skills,” says Legnini.

So, could a group of Shipley entrepreneurs appear on a future episode of Shark Tank? “Some students were so involved in this project, they showed initiative to take it one step further,” explains Legnini. “Together we are working on how to write an actual business plan and thinking about how to take this to the next step.”

Fingers crossed! The real success lies within the students’ deeply rooted learning experience. Whatever business or personal endeavors Sean’s student pursue, the critical thinking, problem solving, and presentation skills they’ve gained as a result of this project proves to be most valuable investment.


The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.