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New Judges

Thank you for taking time to participate in our science fair! The students have put in a lot of hard work and are really looking forward to sharing their projects, as well as receiving feedback and reviews. Sharing your expertise with us will help our teachers and students improve the quality of the fair each year.

Please review the following goals for this science fair.

  • Make the experience positive for each student; every student should come away with a sense of accomplishment regardless of the level of his or her project.
  • Students should perform every step of the scientific/engineering method.
  • This should also be a learning experience for the students.
  • Smile and give students the opportunity to communicate what they have learned as you discuss their projects. Make suggestions for further research.

We appreciate your willingness to do the difficult job of determining winners for our science fair. Below is a list of key responsibilities, a list of FAQs, and advice on judging effectively.

Key Responsibilities

  1. Get your clipboard, judging scorecards, and other supplies from your category captain.
  2. Fair volunteers are wearing purple Ritchey shirts—they are available to direct you to the right projects
  3. Completely fill out the judging scorecard for every project. If a project does not have something that is listed on the scorecard, be sure to enter “0.”
  4. Please fill in the student’s name and project title, on your scorecard.
  5. Please tally the score at the end of each scorecard.
  6. The comments section on the scorecard is helpful for two reasons:
    • Jot down notes or things that stood out to you, because by the time you get to the last project, you might have forgotten your reasoning for doing something the way you did on the first project.
    • Important Note: You should write your comments with the students in mind, as the judging scorecard will be made available to their teachers. Think of it as writing comments on a paper they’ve submitted for grading. If you write your comments as possible improvements, then you will probably have the proper tone for constructive feedback and also remind students of what they found lacking in the project.

We acknowledge there will be projects that you might want to linger at, but please try to spend the same amount of time on each project. We’ve provided basic guidelines, based on grade level, in the FAQs on the next page. You should allocate your time wisely or you will not finish on time or have to rush through.


Judging Effectively

The next sections focus on important tips for successful judging. The key considerations are two-fold:

  • First, you should be keenly aware of the abilities the students have at their grade level.
  • Second, it is exceptionally important that the students are judged fairly and for you to understand what warrants low/high scores.

Scoring Guidlines

You should rely on the judging scorecard to provide a framework for consistent scoring.

General Scoring

  • The project should demonstrate the use and understanding of the scientific method. While the neatness and organization of the display is important and scored separately, using the scientific method is most important.
  • The project should focus on experimentation, not just library research or gadgetry.
  • The quality of the student's work is what matters, not the amount of work.
  • Do not count it against the student if he or she ended up disproving the objective or hypothesis.
  • Though it might technically be a negative result, the project and process the student went through could still be considered a success.
  • State-of-the-art lab equipment does not guarantee the students’ understanding of the experiment.

High Scores Should Go to the Following:

  • A project demonstrating the student’s full understanding. A simple project that the student understands should receive a higher score than a more sophisticated project that the student does not understand.
  • Scientific advances
  • Innovative experimental procedures and/or lab equipment that go above and beyond the original experiment and what is expected for the grade level
  • An understanding of concepts above and beyond what their resources might typically have allowed them to discover
  • Correctly interpreted data
  • Repeated trials to verify results
  • Analytical techniques to predict/reduce the number of trials required, based on the prediction
  • The student’s display of the entire experiment and the results

Low Scores Should Go to the Following:

  • Lack of research; many resources were readily available to the students throughout the project
  • Superfluous lab equipment or displays that do not relate to the experiment or were not aids in collecting data
  • Poor understanding of terminology and equipment
  • A failure to collect data that relates to the scientific question posed
  • Results that are derived from another source (such as literature) and not from student experimentation