Ninth Graders Make the Case for History’s Greatest Inventions

What is history’s most important, impactful and overlooked innovation? The answer, according to the winners of the ninth grade history project Panther Tank, is the concept of translation.
Based on the popular television show “Shark Tank,” in which budding entrepreneurs pitch their inventions to a panel of accomplished business leaders, Panther Tank asked small groups of ninth graders to sell Masters seniors and faculty members on an invention that the students believe is either the most impactful in human history or has been overlooked or undervalued by historians. 

The History and Religion Department came up with the idea for Panther Tank after it became clear that the ninth grade’s annual City Project would not take place due to the spread of COVID-19. “The ninth grade history teachers put their heads together to come up with a new project that would tie into the theme of technology and its impact on human culture, that would ask students to practice their research and writing skills, and that would work well in a virtual classroom,” upper school history teacher Matt Ives said. 

The initial 37 groups were whittled down to just four finalist groups that pitched the ideas of ancient Greek philosophy, the domestication of the horse, the concept of translation and the modern hospital. 

The winning group of Jaden Bascon ’23, Carol Queiroz ’23 and Ellie Yang ’23 argued that language translation is the most important historical innovation due to its ability to connect cultures and people. In an email to upper school students and faculty announcing the winner, Ives shared: “It was a very close competition and in speaking with the judges afterward, they all agreed that any one of the four groups could have won.”

Although they won’t walk away with a business deal like the winners in “Shark Tank,” Bascon, Queiroz and Yang each won a Panther Tank Challenge tank top-style shirt — and the knowledge that they may have changed the way their peers and teachers think of language translation.