The lollipop with seeds in the biodegradable stick beat out other creative entries, such as “Trends with Friends,” a talk show for kids, and the Smarttle, a water bottle equipped with speakers, Bluetooth and a flashlight.
Fourteen After School Zone teams from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida tried to persuade the judges in the 4th Annual Young Entrepreneurial Shark Tank competition — and the Ocoee Middle School students were selected the winners.
On the winning team from OMS were Jayden Currence, Maryah Jimenez, Maiya DeCruiz, Jack Arnett, Brandon Bahadur, Terek Bahadur, Rayne City, Hayley Maltba, Nia Carter and Kylie Jones.
Two other West Orange County middle schools participated, as well: SunRidge and Lakeview.
The 14 contenders were challenged to come up with a prototype product and submit a video to promote it. Judges narrowed the entries down to the top seven, and each of them had to pitch their idea in front of the judges.
The other seven teams set up a display at the competition, so all 14 products were showcased.
The event was held at Nova Southeastern University – Orlando Campus
The Eco-Pop was described as “a delicious lollipop with a biodegradable stick containing seeds, which can be used to grow the fruit of the lollipop's flavor.”
Students had to produce prototypes of their products, so the Ocoee students created the sticks — complete with seeds — on a 3D printer. The candy portion was made with molds and then added to the stick to offer an edible product.
Participants had to give a three- to five-minute PowerPoint presentation, which was followed by questions from the judges, similar to the “Shark Tank” television show.
“They very clearly stated the problem of all the waste that is produced by food wrapping, and the judges found this very persuasive,” said Michelle Ramos, assistant director of middle school programs for Boys & Girls Club Programs of Central Florida. “Plus it was a super clever idea that the sticks were not only biodegradable but would actually produce. And they were mindful that the seeds coordinated with the flavor.”
Like Ocoee, Lakeview and SunRidge also made it to the top positions to pitch to the judges. Lakeview’s company name was Virtual Life Industries, and the focus was virtual wear. The students created a full-immersion bodysuit for video-game players so they could feel the impact of the sports game or racing game, Ramos said.
SunRidge’s idea was “Trends with Friends,” a talk show for kids created by kids that emphasized appropriateness for school-age use. The youth would serve as the news reporters or talk show hosts.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida After-School Zone receives funding from Orange County Government.