Judging Guidelines for the Montgomery County Science Fair Judges
Review the updated judging criteria and please judge ONLY on these criteria. Give the same amount of time and attention to all projects you are judging. Remember, you are ranking projects, not grading, and only comparing those in your judging section. Try to use the whole scoring range to better separate “close” projects. If the project is a continuation, evaluate only this year’s efforts.
For many students, the judging interviews are the highlights of the fair. Be positive and encouraging. Many judges are professional scientists and students look at them as role models. A positive experience at the Fair may have a significant impact on their career choices. Do remember that as Middle and Senior High School students, many fair participants have little science background and should not be held to professional standards.
As a judge, you may be somewhat intimidating to the students. Be friendly, but businesslike. Introduce yourself and shake their hands. Make eye contact. Show interest, ask questions and listen. The students should do most of the talking. The judging criteria are the best guide to appropriate questions to ask the students. Questions help guide students’ presentations and can be used to curtail students giving a memorized spiel. They also will help you understand the more sophisticated projects. Be sure the students explain any jargon or terms you don’t know.
It is very important that the students understand their projects. A well understood simple, straightforward project should rank higher than a sophisticated project that is not well understood. Students should be able to explain their projects to non-experts. Judges should not hesitate to keep asking questions if they do not understand what the student did or how the experiment worked.
Thank the students at the end of the interview and say something positive about their presentation. Be discreet about discussing projects with other judges where students might overhear.
If you feel a student has completely “missed the boat” on some aspect of his/her project, try to ask questions which might help them to understand what they are missing. Be careful about providing information to the students. This may artificially improve their performance with subsequent judges, which is unfair to the other students. And for some students, added information under the stressful conditions of the Fair can be confusing. The student feedback forms are a great way to give the students CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. If you wish to talk to a student in person, do so after the judging is completed and be sure not to embarrass or intimidate the student.
ScienceMontgomery is VERY GRATEFUL for your time and efforts on behalf of the Fair and we thank you for your participation. We hope your judging experience is interesting and enjoyable and you will be back with us next year!