Fairfax Area High School Student "Shark Tank" Technology Challenge — 2017-2018


Are you an innovator? 
Are you a problem-solver? 

Are you interested in cash prizes? 

Then get ready for this year's "Shark Tank" Technology Challenge!

What is the Challenge:

To develop an innovative, user-friendly device or app that will have a positive impact in the lives of older adults, adults with disabilities, or caregivers. 

Who Can Participate:

High school students in Fairfax County, Fairfax City, and the City of Falls Church.  

Where to Begin:

Send an email to TechChallenge@fairfaxcounty.gov to request the challenge packet.

The"Shark Tank" Challenge Packet Contains:

  1. "Shark Tank" Technology Challenge Overview
  2. Initial Project Proposal Form Due: Friday, December 1, 2017 

  3. Final Project Submission Form Due:  Monday, February 12, 2018

  4. Initial Project Review Rubric (used for first round judging)

  5. "Shark Tank" Pitching Plan Guide (resources for planning your "Shark Tank" pitch)

  6. "Shark Tank" Event Judging Criteria

  7. FAQs and Resources

2017-2018 Contest Timeline:

  • Initial Project Proposal Form Due: Friday, December 1, 2017

  • Final Project Submission Form Due:  Monday, February 12, 2018

  • Initial Panel Review Notification: Monday, March 5, 2018

  • "Shark Tank" Presentation Materials Due: Monday, April 9, 2018

  • "Shark Tank" Finalist Competition: Monday, April 16, 2018

The Challenge Details:

Many older adults and adults with disabilities struggle every day to live comfortably in this ever-changing world – a world that is often not designed to accommodate their highly specialized needs.  The widely watched televised version of "Shark Tank" is a platform for inventors of all ages to submit innovative, marketable product ideas that will successfully cater to today’s popular culture.  This contest opportunity seeks young innovators who will take up the challenge of designing practical products and applications that older adults and adults with disabilities can independently operate to make the world more user-friendly. 

Students are encouraged to be innovative and creative. Potential projects may be either a mobile app, web service, robotic, assistive device or any combination. The project should seek to address a need in at least one of the categories listed below (but not limited to the suggestions listed in each category):

  • Health and Wellness: Promote "healthy aging/lifestyle," e.g. encourage physical activity, continued engagement in recreation and leisure activities, good nutrition, monitor health status, provide intellectual stimulation, chronic disease self- management, mobility.
  • Safety: Enhance physical safety, e.g. address fall risk concerns, communicate with caregivers/family/friends, food safety, monitor health risks.
  • Community Engagement & Lifelong Learning: Promote understanding, build relationships, facilitate communication in a range of community and family settings, encourage learning, decrease isolation; e.g. encourage community connections, family and friend participation, linkages to the world around, activity engagement, remote participation in group activities.
  • Caregiving: Support family caregivers in managing their caregiving role, e.g. monitoring older adult health status, medication management, nutritional status, and/or facilitate remote communication.

Some examples to start the thought process:

  • A robot that retrieves dropped items or plays cards when operated remotely by a family member or friend;
  • A device that can make it easier to climb up and down stairs; an app that allows an older adult or person with disabilities to navigate outdoor sidewalks without tripping;
  • A 3D printed tool that can assist an individual with restricted movement capabilities; a prosthetic device to act in place of a missing limb or finger. 

Having a means to take care of everyday needs at home or the community is only the beginning. They, just like you, may also want to create, paint, play cards, play sports, and communicate with friends/family near and far. 

Students are encouraged to talk to family members, caregivers, older adults and those with disabilities, and to observe the real life problems these individuals face every day in their homes and in their communities, and then to explore the endless possibilities of real life solutions. 


2017-2018 Contest Details:

Finalists in each category will be selected to present their product to a "Shark Tank" panel. Panelists will consist of experts from the fields of education, technology, aging and health care. The winning projects will receive a cash prize and the projects may be considered for potential development. All Finalists in each category will be given an opportunity to demonstrate their products in the spring of 2018. 

The innovation will be judged on the following merits:

  1. Maximizes independent use by the older adult and/or the person with disabilities, minimizes the need for coaching
  2. Simplicity of design and use, non-threatening and easy to understand and use.
  3. Meets the objectives of the category.
  4. Demonstrates an understanding of the challenges faced by older adults and/or people with disabilities using technology.
  5. Demonstrates evidence of market demand.
  6. Demonstrates positive impact on the lives of those with disabilities and/or older adults.


TIP: Finalists chosen to go into the "Shark Tank" should be prepared to not only demonstrate how the innovation meets each of the 6 merits listed above, but also to document what research was performed, pilot- testing done, and the impact on the audience for which the innovation is intended.


How to Enter:

Request the "Shark Tank" Challenge Packet by sending an email to TechChallenge@fairfaxcounty.gov. This packet contains all the essential forms needed to be successful in developing and submitting a project.

Complete and submit the Initial Project Proposal Form by Friday, December 1, 2017. The Initial Project Proposal Form requires only a basic project overview and does not require the project be completed. The Initial Project Proposal Form may be emailed to TechChallenge@fairfaxcounty.gov.  

The Final Project Submission Form must be submitted by Monday, February 12, 2018. The Final Project Submission Form assumes that the project has been completed and tested at time of submission. It is highly recommended that you test your ideas and finished project with your target audience. The completed Final Project Submission Form may be emailed to TechChallenge@fairfaxcounty.gov.


Include on the Final Project Submission Form:

  1. Project Summary (approximately 3-4 pages) – completed on the Final Project Submission form.
  2. Video, 3-5 minutes in duration, describing project and how to use (using only original graphic and audio/video components).   Include on the Final Project Submission form as a link.
  3. Video, 3–5 minutes in duration, demonstrating successful use by the target audience (using only original graphic and audio/video components).   Include on the Final Project Submission form as a link.
  4. Actual software or link to software, if possible.


Contact Information & Resources:

  • If you are running into barriers preventing you from participating or completing your project, please contact us at TechChallenge@fairfaxcounty.gov.

  • Tech Challenge Resources page of the “Shark Tank” Challenge Packet will answer your questions and support you in the development of your project.  We may be able to assist with equipment challenges, technical questions, access to older adults and caregivers and/or background information (e.g. how Parkinson’s disease affects mobility).

  • For additional information or questions, interested students and teachers may email the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging at TechChallenge@fairfaxcounty.govor call 703-324-3264, TTY 711.

  • It is highly recommended that you test your ideas and finished project with your target audience. For assistance in locating prospective target audiences, please consult the Tech Challenge Resources page of the “Shark Tank” Challenge Packet or contact us at TechChallenge@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 703-324- 3264, TTY 711.

  • Optional: Have you checked out filing a provisional patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office before submitting your innovation to this challenge?
  • Send an email to TechChallenge@fairfaxcounty.gov to request the 2017-2018 "Shark Tank" Challenge Packet.


Get ready for the Fairfax Area High School "Shark Tank" Technology Challenge!



The 2016-2017 "Shark Tank" Tech Challenge Finalist Projects:

Watch this video on the 2016-2017 competition!

The 2016-2017 "Shark Tank" Finalist Competition was held on Friday, March 24, 2017. Each team won $1,500 from IntegrityOne Partners and Refraction for these projects:

The CarePear Team from Chantilly High School received an Excellence in Software Development Award for an app that connects an adult or caregiver to reliable, short-term services such as grocery pickup, yard work, or changing a lightbulb. One judge compared this concept to Uber!

Team members: Kaitlyn Cheng, Meriel Chang, Kartik Chugh, and Pradith Santapur.

The Assistive Stability Bar Team from Chantilly High School built a stairway to demonstrate their device which is meant to prevent falls on stairs. It is a significant and innovative first step in the design of what could be an important safety device.

Team members: Alex Hargett, Khai Nguyen, and Kenny Catubig

Ishaandeep Lubana, an individual competitor from the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, created an app called Kane. This app puts health information in a convenient format that's easy to share and maintain. It also includes a personal playlist or media list for the enjoyment of the user.

The Motorized Walker Robot Team from Chantilly High School designed a robot that allows people with mobility limitations to carry items such as a dinner plate or glass of water to another place in the home. This innovation has promise to greatly improve the lives of those with mobility limitations.

Team members: Arad Maghouli, Jareth McAlister, Omer Duale, and Joshua Steffen.


  • American Therapeutic Recreation Association
  • Department of Family Services, Fairfax Area Agency on Aging
  • Department of Neighborhood & Community Services
  • Inova Fairfax Hospital Medical Library
  • INTEGRITYOne Partners
  • Refraction
  • The Center for Innovative Technology
  • The InovaCares for Seniors™ PACE® Program
  • The Kellar Institute, George Mason University
  • Tysons Corner Microsoft Store
  • Virginia Assistive Technology System


The Tech Challenge is an initiative of the Fairfax 50+ Community Action Plan which was passed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2014.

The Tech Challenge also supports Fairfax County's Economic Success Plan that seeks to grow and diversify the economy through innovation, social equity and expanding science, technology, engineering and math education.

Go to Fairfax County's Older Adults Page to find services, recreational activities and community engagement opportunities for older adults. 


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