Dragon’s Den challenge for young entrepreneurs at St MacNissi’s PS


Pupils at St MacNissi’s Primary School in Larne have been given a taste of the business world after taking part in a Dragon’s Den-style challenge.

Youngsters were set the task of designing and creating a craft toy, then presenting their ideas to a panel of judges.

The competition started out life as a science project set by newly-appointed vice principal, Conal Oakes, but quickly became an opportunity for P7 pupils to gain practical experience in how to run a business.

The pupils were tasked with building a ‘pop-up’ chimney, which involved creating a circuit to light the fire and the use of pneumatics to make a small figure ‘pop’ out the model.

“I saw this as an opportunity to extend the pupils’ learning by setting up a scenario where they would market their model as a craft toy,” Mr Oakes explained.

“They were allocated teams and had to set up their own company withs its own logo and brand. Each group also had a manager, ICT co-ordinator, graphic designer, presenter, music co-ordinator and accountant.

“The pupils then had to perform a variety of tasks arising from the curriculum, including using persuasive writing to create ads, procedural writing to create instructions for the toy’s assembly, and using maths to work out how to cost the project.

“The competition also gave pupils the opportunity to extend their ICT skills, through the use of PowerPoint for making their pitch to the judges, using iPad apps to create their advertisements, and spreadsheets for the accountancy figures.”

The culmination of the project saw three members of the business community invited to the school to act as ‘dragons’, judging each group’s performance and ultimately choosing an overall winner.

One of the ‘dragons’, UTV journalist Fionnuala O’Connell, said she was “very impressed” by the standards set by the children involved in the competition.

“The work that everyone put into making the finished product was superb,” she added. “The skills learned and demonstrated in building a product and then pitching it will stay with those young people for life.

“The judges chose Champion Chimneys as the winners as they had a very professional branding to attract buyers. They had business cards with a Twitter handle, fliers, and even provided a sweetener with branded chocolate as well.

“The future of the Larne business community is bright, if these young people are anything to go by.”