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.
This year the committee is particularly interested in innovative (completely new or improves on an existing technology) projects that may enhance the independent enjoyment of life for older adults and adults with disabilities, including wounded warriors. The committee encourages students to consider projects that may offer assistance in such areas as:
Students are encouraged to be innovative and creative – successful projects are not based on stereotypes. 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):
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, communicate with friends/family near and far.
Successful projects are not based on stereotypes but show innovation and a true understanding of the need identified. Students are encouraged to visit senior centers, adult day health care centers and to talk to family members, caregivers, older adults and those with disabilities. It is essential 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.
Finalists 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 2022.
The innovation will be judged on the following merits:
Tip: Finalists chosen to go into the "Shark Tank" should be prepared to not only demonstrate how the innovation meets each of the six 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.
Review the “Shark Tank” Challenge Packet. This packet contains all the essential information needed to be successful in developing and submitting a project.
Complete and submit Initial Project Proposal Form* by new due date Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 (extended from the original date of Monday, Dec. 6, 2021). The proposal form found in the Challenge Packet requires only a basic project overview and does not require the project be completed. The Initial Project Proposal Form may be emailed.
The Final Project Submission Form* found in the Challenge Packet must be returned to us by Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. The 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.
Include in the Final Project Submission Form:
If you are running into barriers preventing you from participating or completing your project, please contact us by email.
Tech Challenge Resources page of the “Shark Tank” Challenge Packet will 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 questions or assistance, email a question.
For additional information or questions, interested students and teachers may email the 50+ Technology Committee.
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 by email.
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?
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 the 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.
Find services, recreational activities and community engagement opportunities for older adults at Fairfax County Older Adults.
Download the PDF* version of The Challenge Overview Packet (The Challenge, Contest Details, How to Enter, Contact Information and Resources).
October 1, 2021
The Fairfax Area 50+ Technology Committee is proud to offer the 6th Annual “Shark Tank” Technology Challenge open to all high school students in Fairfax County, City of Fairfax, and the City of Falls Church to develop an innovative device or app that will have a positive impact in the lives of older adults, adults with disabilities, or caregivers. $5000.00 in cash prizes have been provided by our sponsor, IntegrityOne Partners.
The Shark Tank Challenge Packet includes all of the necessary information and all the essential forms. It is available to download from our website.
This year the committee is particularly interested in projects that may enhance the independent enjoyment of life for older adults and adults with disabilities, including wounded warriors. Successful projects are innovative either in that it is not currently found in the marketplace or it improves a product currently available. The committee encourages students to consider projects that may offer assistance in such areas as:
You may wish to view the video produced by Fairfax County Public Schools of the “Shark Tank” judging event featuring students who have participated.
The challenge process is outlined below. The final project submission form assumes that the project has been completed and tested at time of submission. It is highly recommended that students test their ideas and finished project with their target audience. The 50+ Technology Committee can assist in finding places to conduct product testing with seniors and/or adults with disabilities. Project submissions are initially reviewed by a judging panel and finalists will be invited to pitch their product at our “Shark Tank” event in the spring. Winners will be notified at the conclusion of the “Shark Tank” event.
2021-2022 Contest Timeline
Tara Turner, Director
Fairfax Area Agency on Aging
Download the PDF* version of the Letter to Participants.
Fairfax County Services for Older Adults
Disability and Services Planning Development
Family Caregiver Alliance
National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health
Inova Fairfax Medical Library
Northern Virginia Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NVRC)
ServiceSource Assistive Technology Lab
Virginia Department of the Blind and Visually Impaired
Fairfax County Public Library, Access Services Branch
Disability and Services Planning Development
Neighborhood and Community Services – Senior Centers
Neighborhood and Community Services – After School Technology Centers
Neighborhood and Community Services- After School Technology Centers
Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities at George Mason University
Send an email.
Download the PDF* version of Tech Challenge Resources.
This serves as a resource to help finalists plan for their “Shark Tank” presentations. This “Shark Tank” Pitch Planning Guide is based on the Pitch Canvas, a recognized format for conducting business pitches. This document is not required but could be a useful tool. Please also review the 2018 “Shark Tank” Event Presentation Guide.
Simple statement of what change you and your product are making in the world. A memorable one-sentence explanation of what impact your product will have.
Pain (+ Gain)
End statement with call to action. Finish the pitch with a clear request from the audience to take action!
Note: Can be presented in any part of the pitch.
Modified from the Pitch Canvas http://best3minutes.com/the-pitch-canvas.
Download the PDF* version of Plan Your "Shark Tank" Pitch.
Check out this video highlighting the students from Chantilly High School and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) who were among the 2017 winners of the Fairfax Area Student "Shark Tank" Technology Challenge. The Challenge was to develop an innovative device or app that improves the lives of older adults, adults with disabilities, or caregivers in one or more of the areas of health and wellness, safety, community engagement, and lifelong learning, and caregiving.
Boring Presentation: Loses focus more than once. Does not manage time effectively. No logical sequence of information.
OK Presentation: Follows logical sequence but structure could be better. May need more elaboration on one or more points. Adequate time management, but could be stronger.
Great Presentation: Catches audience’s interest. Follows logical sequence, stays focused, good explanations. Effective time management and strong transitions.
Category: Voice Quality and Pace
Boring Presentation: Mumbles, mispronounces words, grammatical errors, “umms”. Difficult to understand. Speaks too quietly or too loudly. Speaks too fast or too slow. Loses train of thought, tentative. Lacks enthusiasm. Mechanistic
OK Presentation: Easily understood. Speaks loud enough to be heard and at appropriate pace. Some awkward pauses or halting delivery but mostly clear and natural.
Great Presentation: Enthusiastic and engaging. Speaks clearly and loudly enough at a comfortable pace. Exudes confidence and interest. No grammatical or pronunciation errors. Presentation appears conversational, extemporaneous, and natural.
Category: Mannerisms and Body Language
Boring Presentation: Demonstrates distracting mannerisms which may include bad posture, shifting feet, too much or too little hand movement. Body language reveals reluctance to interact with audience. Seems fearful/very nervous.
OK Presentation: No significantly distracting mannerisms. Acceptable posture. Body language mostly demonstrates comfort in interacting with audience but occasional instances of discomfort may be communicated. Seems natural for the most part. Body language used effectively to maintain audience’s interest.
Great Presentation: Body language reflects presenter’s reaction to, and empathy with, the audience. Gestures match verbal content, are comfortable and relaxed, seem spontaneous.
Category: Professionalism and Appearance
Boring Presentation: Does not meet minimum requirements for business dress. Makes excuses for aspects of the presentation. Inappropriate word choice for audience. Inappropriately informal.
OK Presentation: Meets minimum standards for business dress and appearance. Generally treats audience professionally, acceptable word choice (no slang). May seem to lack confidence at times. Reasonably credible.
Great Presentation: Dressed appropriately. Appearance engenders respect and credibility. Treats audience professionally. Speaker appears confident and has good command of the topic.
Category: Rapport with Audience and Use of Media
Boring Presentation: Does not connect with audience. Little to no eye contact. Reads. Relies heavily on slides and/or notes. Attempts to cover too many slides or lingers too long on too few slides.
OK Presentation: Tries to maintain eye contact most of the time but instances may be fleeting in length. Scans the room. Some reliance on notes or slides.
Great Presentation: Genuinely connects with audience. Maintains eye contact. Visuals (slides, etc.) effortlessly enhance speech.
Credits: This information is borrowed from the SPEAKS Rubric from CSU-Fullerton Business Communication Program and the CSU-Chico, College of Business Oral Communication Rubric.
Download the PDF* version of the Event Presentation Guide.
Category: Knowledge and Understanding
Score 1: Little or no identification of problem/need; little or no demonstration of understanding, knowledge, or impact of problem.
Score 2: Some knowledge and/or understanding of problem/challenge. Superficial demonstration of impact of problem.
Score 3: Adequate knowledge and understanding of problem/challenges faced by audience. Adequate demonstration of the impact of problem.
Score 4: Very good knowledge and understanding of problem identified and implications of the impact on the quality of life.
Score 5: Excellent knowledge and understanding of the problem and its impact on the need and quality of life of the target audience.
Category: Design Thinking
Score 1: Superfluous attempt to address design criteria.
Score 2: Some attempt to address design criteria.
Score 3: Adequate demonstration of how the design meets the criteria.
Score 4: Very good integration of design criteria in a logical manner.
Score 5: Effective integration of design criteria. Excellent presentation of impact of design to accomplish goal.
Score 1: Superficial testing. Little or no evidence of sample size. No demonstration of use of data. (0-1 people tested product)
Score 2: Some testing. Some evidence of sample size. Limited attempt to use date to impact design. (2-3 people tested product)
Score 3: Adequate evidence of testing and sample size. Some attempt to demonstrate use of data on design. (3-5 people tested product)
Score 4: Strong, clear and appropriate testing. Appropriate sample size. Clear demonstration of impact of data on design. (5-10 people tested product)
Score 5: Compelling evidence of testing and sample size. Compelling demonstration of impact of data on design. (10+ people tested product)
Category: Market Demand
Score 1: Little or no evidence of benefits, uniqueness, or cost/benefit analysis.
Score 2: Superficial evidence of benefits. Limited cost/benefit analysis.
Score 3: Adequate evidence of benefit. Adequate cost/benefit analysis.
Score 4: Good evidence of benefits, uniqueness and innovation. Good cost/benefit analysis
Score 5: Compelling evidence of benefits, uniqueness and innovation. Compelling analysis of cost versus benefit.
Score 1: Not understandable, no sequence of information, not engaging.
Score 2: N/A
Score 3: Some attempt at logical sequencing and relevance. Somewhat engaging.
Score 4: N/A
Score 5: Info presented in a logical and interesting sequence.
Download the PDF* version of the Initial Panel Review Rubric.
The following is intended to provide a framework within which to judge the student projects. Please feel free to ask your own questions. If you have not seen a Shark Tank episode, please consider watching one to familiarize yourself with the environment of the “tank” including tone, flow, discussion, questioning, etc.,. Thank you for agreeing to be a judge. It should be a very enjoyable experience for both you and the contestants.
1. Maximizes independent use by the older adult/adult with disabilities, minimizes 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/adults with disabilities using technology.
5. Demonstrates evidence of market demand.
6. Demonstrates positive impact on the lives of older adults/adults with disabilities.
1. Health and Recreation: Promote healthy aging, 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.
2. Safety: Enhance physical safety, e.g., address fall risk concerns, communicate with caregivers/family/friends, food safety, monitor health risks.
3. Caregiving: Support family caregivers in managing their caregiving role.
1. Mission: What were you trying to accomplish?
a. What need/problem was identified and how was it identified?
b. What is the target audience – age, living environment?
c. What benefit does this product/innovation offer?
a. Why was this need/problem chosen?
b. What research was performed to identify issue/identify solution?
c. What makes this product unique?
a. How do you know this product fulfills its mission?
b. How was it tested?
c. How many people tested it?
d. What adaptations were made to the product based on the results of testing?
e. What is the data to support the above?
a. How was the product built?
b. What tools – equipment, software, expertise – are needed?
c. What is/was the cost to produce?
1. Is this product worthy of further development? By whom?
2. What advice can be provided to the contestant in terms of further testing, development?
Download the PDF* version of the Guidance for Judges.
*Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs, services and activities. To request reasonable accommodations or to receive this information in an alternate format, call 703-324-7496 or TTY 703-222-9452.
The Fairfax Area Student “Shark Tank” Technology Challenge is an initiative of the Fairfax 50+ Community Action Plan which was passed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2014.
This initiative 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.
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