Judging Science Fair
The purpose of the Science Fair
is to give young people the
• Do some science.
• Learn about a new subject – or more about
an old one.
• Learn what scientists do.
• Have fun doing all of above.
RIMS Regional Science Fair
• Annual event, held in April
• Includes about 950 student participants
grades 4 – 12
• Participants usually winners of local school
• Best projects from grades 6 – 12 go to
California State Science Fair
The judge’s job is to:
• Probe skillfully and deeply.
• Leave the student feeling positive about
• Help the student learn something from the
• Determine award winners.
As a judge, what should I expect
from the students?
• Pride in their projects and accomplishments
• Preparation for the fair and the ability to
clearly and concisely explain their projects
• Ability to answer questions about their
projects at levels appropriate to their grades
• Wide variety of project quality and
What should student oral
• Hypothesis and where it came from
• Experimental procedures
• Experimental results
• Conclusions drawn from experimental
• Thought processes that went into the project
• Outcomes and possible future hypotheses
• Major purpose: effective communication of:
– Experimental outcomes
• Effectiveness in communication and
scientific content should be primary
• As secondary considerations the extent to
which displays are elaborate or attractive
may be taken into account.
Conflicts of Interest
Disqualify yourself and ask to be reassigned if
a real or perceived conflict of interest
Information regarding findings or conclusions
must not be revealed to anyone except other
panel members and Science Fair officials.
Be an educator
• Treat students with respect
– Project should be considered a significant,
– Evaluate but also praise efforts and
• Ask questions which will cause the student
to think and learn, and to explore more
Preparing for Judging
Before the Science Fair:
• Read the Judging Handbook and be
familiar with judging guidelines.
• Prepare general interview questions.
At the Science Fair: Pre-Judging
• Orientation meeting
• Judging panel preparation
– Have all appropriate forms
– Determination of average interview length
– Locations of categories to be judged
– Procedures for turning in judging results
• Introduce yourself and put student at ease.
• Ask student to explain project.
• Ask questions designed to clarify, to establish how
student got project idea, and to determine
student’s understanding of project and underlying
• Find out how student learned about procedures,
use of equipment, concepts involved.
• If appropriate, ask about help received.
• Judging done by one panel member at a time, not
by the whole group.
• Each judge should try to interview each student,
but at least three interviews should be conducted
for each participant.
• Use about the same amount of time for each
• Adhere to the interview sequence as closely as
• After interviewing all students and evaluating projects
judges collaborate and rank the category projects
• Judges rank the top two projects 1st and 2nd GOLD. The
top project in this group will be considered for the overall
• Judges then rank the next 5 projects SILVER, noting the
top project in that group, which may advance to other
• All remaining projects are given a BRONZE award and are
not ranked individually.
• Projects can vary widely in level of
complexity and sophistication.
• Issue is not tools used but what is done with
resources available – the better science
should be given the higher rating.
• Student’s knowledge should be consistent
with the project and its goals.
Use of Sophisticated Equipment,
Techniques, and Knowledge
• This by itself should not be given extra
credit nor should the student be penalized
for access to it.
• If advanced equipment or techniques are
used, student should understand them and
how they relate to the project and its
• Allowed 4th to 12th grade
• Judging criteria same as for individual
• Look for significant contribution and
understanding by each team member.
• Direct questions to each team member.
• The best project should win, whether
individual or team.
A good science fair project
is an investigation and includes:
• A clear hypothesis, field research or
engineering goal based on research and/or
• An experimental procedure designed to test the
hypothesis or goal.
• Execution of the procedure, with repetitions as
• Data collection and recording.
• Data analysis.
• Conclusions which refer to the hypothesis.
Proving the hypothesis
true is NOT the purpose
of a science fair project.
A well supported answer
to a problem is.
Inappropriate projects include
• Illustrations of concepts in the absence of
their use in an investigation.
• Experiments done without sufficient
• Displays or collections in the absence of
their use in an investigation.
• Experiments done without a scientific
Inappropriate projects include
• Presentation of theories or hypotheses with
no scientific evidence for them.
• Experimental results without analysis or
• Experiments which do not check data
and/or explain anomalous results.
• Procedures using apparatus or procedures
unlikely to produce good data.
• Originality/creativity 20 %
• Comprehension 30 %
• Organization & completeness 30 %
• Effort & motivation 10 %
• Clarity 10 %
• Original problem or unique approach to an
• Resources used ingeniously
• Application/interpretation of data shows
• Student shows understanding of
Does the project show creativity in:
• The hypothesis or question asked?
• The approach to solving the problem?
• Analysis of data?
• Interpretation of data?
• Use of equipment?
• Construction and/or design of new
• Clear hypothesis and project design
• Depth of study demonstrated
• Experiment effectively tests hypothesis
• Experimental procedures and data
collection well done
• Data recorded in organized fashion
Did the idea for the project come from:
• Reading and study?
• Personal experiences or observations?
• A suggestion from a book or the Internet?
• Suggestions from a scientist or engineer?
• Other sources?
• Results and conclusions logical and related
• Implications discussed and further
• Knowledge of scientific/engineering
• The study is complete within the scope of
• Scientific literature has been searched
• Experiments repeated as needed and data
• Conclusions supported by experimental
• Project is well executed
• Time for project appropriate
• Time on background reading/research
• Student learned considerable amount about
subject during project
• Display informative, complete, clear, well
organized, and attractive
• Original notebook available for inspection
• Notebook well organized, accurate
• Purpose, procedures, results, and
• Title accurately reflects project
• Abstract clear and descriptive
• Oral presentations clear, reflect knowledge
of project and underlying science
Thank you for
contributing your time
and expertise to the
young scientists of
Riverside, Inyo, Mono,
and San Bernardino