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

Juniors and seniors at Bearden High School in the Virtual Enterprises class took one of their classmate’s ideas to virtually create a water bottle company.
A new kind of water bottle
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 7:15 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Juniors and seniors at Bearden High School in the Virtual Enterprises class took one of their classmate’s ideas to virtually create a water bottle company.

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

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

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

She’s a softball player who was used to drinking lots of plastic water bottles on the weekends while at tournaments. Then earlier this year, Belcher got diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS, which can lead to other health issues.

Belcher said, “I never got a why. I never got a how. They said it could be genetic, but no one else in my family has this.”

The Virtual Enterprises class wanted to design, create, and market a product that could change Belcher’s life. Even though it’s all not real, they created a business plan for their water bottles that are plant-based and not plastic.

“I put my heart and soul into this class, and I feel like I’m getting that experience back,” Belcher said.

The students are also learning interpersonal skills like networking, delegating and communication.

“It really builds skills that you can’t get in a traditional classroom setting,” said Jami Aylor, the teacher and facilitator of the Virtual Enterprises class.

This was the first year since Aylor taught the class that a team created 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 advance to the state competition against a handful of other schools. If they win that, they will go to nationals in the spring.

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