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A Day in the Life of a Science Fair Judge

Posted by on December 13, 2011

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6:00 am: On computer, check all email accounts looking for anything urgent from real job, answer emails, check website, Twitter, and Facebook

6:30 am: Off computer, make school lunches, sign homework, feed fish, turtle, and dogs, drive kids to school

7:30 am: Find nice clothes, find iron, iron nice clothes (not something scientists usually worry about), find matching shoes

8:00 am: Follow GPS to new school, get lost, add “smarter GPS” to Christmas Wish List

8:45 am: Arrive early, but realize ran out of house without applying deodorant, eating breakfast, or brushing teeth. Search car. Find: kid’s deodorant, old granola bar, mint gum.

9:00 am: Check in at school. Find delicious and nutritious breakfast provided for judges.

9:45 am: Quickly review projects without students present. Find no bubblegum or popcorn projects, but discover too many airplane, parachute, and rubber band projects. Quality of projects varies from hand made backboards to professional printing.

10:15 am: Start interviewing students. Surprised by wonderfully articulate 5th graders. Identify top 3 in my section. Convene with other two 5th grade judges to find top 5 projects.

11:30 am: Discover 12 additional 5th grade projects mislabeled in 4th grade row. Split projects among 3 judges. Each interview 2 more students. Adjust top 5. One judge leaves.

12:00 pm: Break for lunch. Chat with other judges. Shamelessly promote website.

1:00 pm: Interview remaining 6 students. Adjust top 5. Re-interview students considered for top awards. Narrow to top 3. Rank first, second, third.

2:55 pm: Leave school. Smile at, but feel sad for, all the students that did not win top 3. Adjust formula for success. Technical merit beats out originality (very slightly). Errors in scientific method cost projects place in top 3.

3:00 pm: Follow GPS home. Back on computer to check emails from real job. Catch up on current project: writing 2 manuscripts for publication. Check experiment schedule. Write blog entry.

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