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A Judge’s Guide to Science Fair

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A Science & Engineering Fair judge can either make or break a student’s passion for STEM. All too often, we’ve seen judges who are far too critical of students’ projects and don’t have a clear understanding of an appropriate level of work for the grade levels they are judging. This tends to particularly true of college students who might not have connected with your school’s age group in a decade. Recruit professionals in your community who have connections to your school’s grade levels and provide them with clear instructions on how to assess students’ projects.
Share this blog post with your Science & Engineering Fair judges so they can provide the student’s at your school with a positive and educational assessment experience.

Judges Goals

  1. Help students share their experience with you.
  2. Objectively assess students’:
    • Creativity, communication, problem-solving, and collaboration (team projects) skills.
    • Science and engineering practices
  3. Provide positive and constructive feedback.

Student’s Goals

  1. Have fun creatively exploring their genuine interest in a scientific, engineering or computer science context.
  2. Develop the critical thinking skills necessary to plan, design, implement and evaluate their project.
  3. Clearly verbally and non-verbally communicate what they learned.

Interview Tips

  • Start by introducing yourself and greeting the student very positively.
  • If students’ results are inconclusive, then that’s okay as long as they have thought through how they might improve their approach in order to get “good” results.
  • Please don’t make negative comments about students or their projects.

Interview Questions

Ask encouraging questions to help students explain what they’ve learned, such as:

  • Can you tell me about your project?
  • How did you come up with your project topic?
  • What was your favorite part of your project?
  • Was there anything that was surprising to you?
  • Can you explain this chart to me?
  • If you were going to do this project again, what might you do differently?

Feedback

Comment on what you find are the strongest elements of their project and presentation.  For example, you might precede any of the following with Nice, Good, Great, or Outstanding:

  • …. work/job!
  • … project topic!
  • creativity!
  • problem-solving!
  • … developing your procedure!
  • … defining the variables and constants!
  • … of photos/tables/graphs and organization of your display board!
  • communicating your project during our discussion!

Reward Skills Development

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© 2022 STEM World Publishing, Public Benefit Corporation, with permission.

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