Judges are the “referees” in the sport of science fair. As with most refereed sports, the losing teams will often blame the referees for failure and, in some cases that is the case, and in other cases you just got beat.
Since there is no appeal process, no coach’s challenge, and no instant replay for review, the judges’ decisions stand (and will not be explained no matter how much you beg…). SO KNOWING THAT, your project must be well executed and well communicated so that the “bad calls” are minimized.
Here are 10 general questions all students should be prepared to answer:
1. Where did you get the idea for this project?
2. What did you learn?
3. Why are your findings (i.e. results/data/conclusion) important?
4. What was your control (i.e. why is that a control for the independent variable)?
5. Why did you pick that hypothesis (i.e. why did you think that would happen)?
6. Who helped you?
7. What would be an example of the next logical experiment (i.e. what would you do next)?
8. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
9. What were the hardest/easiest/most challenging/most fun /most exciting/ most unexpected (etc.) parts of the project?
10. Did anything surprise you along the way and why (i.e. how did you overcome that problem)?
Remember that there is a component of judging that is intangible and unpredictable. It is based on the random allocation of projects into rooms or groups. In the ideal situation, all judges would review all projects and all come to one agreement. This is not going to happen because of time constraints. Consequently, your impression on whatever judges you are randomly assigned is critical.
MORE TIPS for students:
• You need to study your project. You are responsible for every word on your backboard and every concept related to every word on your back board.
• Chances are you did the project a considerable time before the actual judging (especially at the higher levels); go back and re-read the log book and your research paper.
• You need to show enthusiasm and knowledge TOGETHER.
• One judge can make a difference – so treat EVERYONE who stops by your project with the utmost respect.
• Depending on your project, you could win while wearing ripped jeans or could lose while wearing dress clothes BUT remember that the impression on the judge is critical and your appearance will factor into that even if it is ever so slight. So if you hate dressing up – find the least dressy thing that you will not be fidgeting in and put in on for a few hours.