"Shark Tank" draws city leaders to NEMS
Monday, January 30, 2017 4:30 PM


Our fabulous Northeast Middle School Community hosted its very first Shark Tank Event on January 13, 2017!

Our Shark Tank panelists:

Jim Carlson- Senator, District 51 

Betsy Hodges- Mayor of Minneapolis 

Phillipe Cunningham- City of Minneapolis, Senior Policy Aide (Education, Youth Success, Racial Equity, and LGBTQ Rights

Councilman Reich- Ward 1, City of Minneapolis 

Jenny Arneson- MPS Board of Education, Treasurer

Ed Graff- Superintendent 

Jackie Hanson- Associate Superintendent

Michael Thomas- Chief of Academics, Leadership & Learning 

Eric Moore- Chief of Accountability, Innovation, & Research 

Susanne Griffin- Deputy Chief Academic Officer

Macarre Traynham- Executive Director of Teaching and Learning 

Naomi Taylor- Co-Chair of Pedagogy of Equity 

Betsy Stretch- STEM Curriculum Integration Specialist 

Vernon Rowe- Principal of Northeast Middle School 

Zach Robinson- Spark-Y! Executive Director 


After being charged by our Mayor of Minneapolis, Mayor Betsy Hodges (see attached letter), with finding a solution for our urban food desert issue here in Northeast Minneapolis, our sustainability scholars started researching our urban food desert issue in collaboration with a fabulous youth-centered sustainability program, Spark-Y! Youth Labs. Spark-Y! works with our 7th grade science teachers and their classes two Fridays a month on building the solution: Aquaponic systems!

Our students pitched their ideas for an aquaponics system solution and their favored components of the system (which fish, grow medium, plants, lights, structure...etc.) to increase the availability of healthy, fresh produce in their community-- many doing so through a social justice/community outreach lens:

*Some asked to have sports centers for children with aquaponic systems within the facility to provide nutritious greens, fruits, and other vegetables for the community.

*Others want to be OB/GYN and Pediatricians, and want to establish aquaponic systems within their office to provide nutritious greens, fruits, and other vegetables for the community.

*Others spoke about community centers, with aquaponic systems providing healthy and fresh alternatives to the snacks students usually eat.

*Children included the ideas of teaching others about the importance of good nutrition through creating video games as students love to learn through playing video games, establishing a student-centered information center run by students for students...etc. etc. 

*Many shared their dreams that healthy, fresh produce be more readily available to address the health issues they are seeing right now in their Communities of Color.

A HUGE thank you to our Northeast Middle School learning community who supported this wonderful learning opportunity for our children--we couldn't have done this without you!!

Spark-Y!, your resources, collaboration, expertise, and fabulous facilitators, engineers, architects...etc.? What an awesome partnership to bring cutting edge sustainability learning opportunities for our children that directly correlates to our 7th grade state science standards! Project-based learning at its best!

State, city, and community officials, Minneapolis Public Schools executives, and our very own Northeast Middle School learning community coming together to support our sustainability scholars?