Bearden High students virtually design and sell plant-based water bottles

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WVLT) – Juniors and seniors at Bearden High School in the Virtual Enterprises class picked up one of their classmate’s ideas to virtually start a water bottle business.

The catch is, it’s not a disposable plastic water bottle. Instead, “Plas-Tech” is plant-based and uses nanocellulose, which comes from wood pulp.

In Bradynn Belcher’s research, she discovered that BPA is often one of the chemicals found in plastic water bottles.

“93% of the world’s leading water bottle brands contain microplastics that release toxic chemicals into your water,” said Belcher, a senior executive and CEO of Plas-Tech.

She is a softball player who used to drink a lot of plastic water bottles on weekends at tournaments. Earlier this year, Belcher was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, which can lead to other health issues.

Belcher said: “I never understood why. I never understood how. They said it could be genetic, but no one else in my family has it.

The virtual business class wanted to design, create, and market a product that could change Belcher’s life. Even though all is not real, they created a business plan for their water bottles made from pants, not plastic.

“I put my heart and soul into this class, and I feel like I am rediscovering that experience,” Belcher said.

Students also learn interpersonal skills such as networking, delegation, and communication.

“It really develops skills that you can’t learn in a traditional classroom,” said Jami Aylor, teacher and facilitator of the virtual business course.

It was the first year since Aylor had taught the class that a team made a product with a personal connection.

“I think it gives it a special touch,” said Aylor.

The class also won the East Tennessee Virtual Enterprises competition. On Wednesday, they move on to state competition against a handful of other schools. If they win that, they will go to the nationals in the spring.

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