Each Year in the DeLorean Project, we see the same patterns of behaviour when it comes to our annual Shark Tanks. Students are either nervously excited or need to dig really deep to find the courage to step up. And, as always, our students do! They stand and deliver every… single… time!
The process for our shark tanks is that students can either choose the day (spread over three weeks this year) or choose the panel (three panels with different sharks each week) they wish to pitch to, based on the profiles of the sharks. This year we made a change so that all students that were pitching on the day watched each others’ presentations and gained bonus feedback and value from the experience. Prior to students pitching, their team enters the Green Room with a facilitator to have a final run-through and make any last-minute adjustments to the pitch. The team then moves into the tank where they deliver a 3 – 5-minute pitch to the panel of sharks. Students are encouraged to share their story, why they chose this project, who the target audience is, what is the unique value of their project in comparison to competitors, demonstrate the concept through a minimal viable product (prototype), and finally, what the future of their project looks like and what do they need (financially or otherwise) to move it forward. Following the pitch, the sharks have 15 minutes to provide feedback. This time is incredibly important and is where the students gain the most value from the experience. The feedback might be in the form of names and contacts for people who can help them with their project, financial investment for what the team needs, encouragement to think about how they might further develop the concept, or understanding the user in a deeper way. It is in these moments that students forget that they are only 15 years old in a school classroom and they start to imagine themselves in a real-world situation and at a different age and stage of their life. They are often transformed into thinking like co-collaborators on their ideas and take themselves seriously. It is definitely a highlight for the facilitator team to witness!
Another key aspect of the program, and one that features heavily amongst the shark tank experience, is the ability for the students to develop their skills in self-reflection. After the students collect their Shark Tank Dollars and exit the tank, they enter the reflection tank. A facilitator leads the team through a series of reflective questions and the team discuss and unpack their shark tank experience. Every year, the thing that stands out to the students the most is that the sharks are ‘real’ people, giving ‘real’ investment and ‘real’ feedback on the students ‘real’ projects. And the fact that there is no formal ‘assessment’, makes it weirdly even more ‘real’ for them. The students are usually elated by their accomplishment and in particular, overcoming their fears and stepping into the courage zone. We record these reflections so that the students can watch them back later and be reminded of how they felt and what they accomplished when they stepped into their courage zones.
Every year the bar on the standards of presentations is raised and the sharks continue to be impressed by the students, their confidence and presentation skills, and more importantly, their ideas to solve real-world problems. This style of learning takes a village and the team of facilitators are genuinely grateful for the support of parents, our wider College community and our extended network across Southeast Queensland. Congratulations to all our Year 10s who participated in Shark Tank 2020; you should be proud of yourselves! We can’t wait to see what else you can do in the remaining weeks/months of the year and beyond.
You can find most of the pitches on our DeLorean Project Youtube Channel. We experienced some technical difficulties in the first week with the sound, headphones may assist. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks and Term 4 – exciting days ahead for The DeLorean Project!
Tanya Cullen, DeLorean Project Coordinator