Special Awards judging process

This science fair is for kids. As you interview them, your most important role is to acknowledge the hard work they have done, and to encourage them to continue their interest in science. As you work your way through your list, give all presenters your full attention and the appreciation they have earned. You will soon see which projects are truly special and deserve an award.

Remember to adjust your rankings for the age level of the presenters; we are not necessarily looking for the most complex and sophisticated projects presented by the most senior students at the fair, but for the projects that best match the spirit of the special award.

Your task:
To work on a team of judges to decide which self-nominated project receives the special award to which you are assigned. Every student is interviewed at least once; one or more judges may revisit stronger projects. A detailed description of the criteria (including eligible grade levels) for the award may be found in the brochures included in your judge’s binder.

Teams for judging:
Each team has several members, depending on how many projects will be judged. Within that team, you are partnered with one other judge and are given a portion of the list of projects (or all, if the number is small) to interview together.

The judging process:
You and your partner interview the students on your list. You decide which are your top projects. You revisit those students to ask a few more questions and to rank them. You exchange lists with other team members, re-interview their best projects, and together come to a final decision.

Total time frame:
3 hours

Suggested times:
If possible, arrive early, to pick up your package and to preview the projects before the students arrive.

2:30 – 3:45 pm
First pass: No more than 5 minutes per project, to enjoy talking with the students and to get a quick idea: Is this project special? Is it a serious contender for an award? Rank your projects from strongest to weakest. If you and your partner are responsible for the entire list of nominees, return to your strongest projects to ask a few more questions and to make your decision. Give your list of ranked projects to the chief judge, with your recommendation for which project should get the award. You are finished.

If there is no student at the project, ask the neighbours: “Do you know where Johnny is? Is he here?” If not, initial the corner tag and add “student not here”. Return later and try again (some younger students might not arrive until 3:30)

3:45 – 4 pm
Meet with the rest of your team; exchange your lists of best projects. Note: Be sure to arrange with other team members when and where to meet. We suggest that you arrive on time for the start of judging (2:30 p.m. at the judges’ table) to do this.

4 – ? pm
Second pass: Visit the other teams’ best projects. Rank them against your best; list them, strongest to weakest. Meet with your team at a pre-determined time; decide which project you will recommend to get the award.

5:30 (or earlier)
One team member gives the final list of ranked projects to the chief judge, with a recommendation for which project should get the award.

Things to remember when you get to a project:

  1. Initial the corner tag beside the name of your award. This shows other judges that you have interviewed for that award, and confirms for the students (and anxious parents) that judging has occurred.

  2. Introduce yourself: “Hello, my name is ______. I am here to talk to you because you were nominated for the _______ award.

  3. Put the student at ease, with your smile, with your evident appreciation for the project (“Wow – your backboard looks great! Is that your dog? Tell me why you chose this topic.”)

  4. Be positive. No criticism!

  5. What you are looking for:

    • First: Does the project match the criteria and the spirit of the special award?
    • Next: evaluate the projects following these general guidelines:
      > Excellent science (50%)
      > Student knows lots about the topic (25%)
      > Student communicates effectively (15%)
      > Backboard looks good, is clear (10%)

Questions? The Chief Judge can be found at the judges’ table.

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