At the request of many of our judges, we have prepared a few guidelines to
aid you in your work. We would appreciate your comments and suggestions.
Every project should have a notebook, a detailed written record of the scientific
study. The contents should be specific and concise and should display the student's
use of the scientific method. Among its contents should be an Abstract, Hypothesis (or,
in the case of engineering and computer projects, Statement of Goals), Procedures (showing
sufficient repetition of tests/experiments), Results, Conclusions,
Recommendations, Bibliography and Appendix (tables, figures, raw data). Additional
sections may include an Introduction, Background Information, Nomenclature, Statement
of Theory, Statistical Analysis and other topics specific to the individual
project. Although you will not be able to thoroughly examine every notebook, you
will find it helpful to check the contents at least briefly.
The display is essentially a compromise of content versus time. Ideally, it
should stand on its own, describing the major elements of the project and should
be easily read from 3 feet away. If logically and neatly organized, it should
require no more than sixty seconds reading time. While appropriate graphs,
photographs, illustrations and equipment displays are encouraged,
gimmicks (e.g., flashing lights) are not. If, after reviewing the display, you
feel confused rather than hungry for more, it has not served its primary
purpose -- but keep in mind that it is only a small part of the overall project.
Interview with the Exhibitor
A genuine interest in the student's work, coupled with the determination
to make judging a positive learning experience, is a good formula to use
here. The interview a) allows students to present their work in their own
way, b) permits the judges to, by asking specific questions, review the work
done and determine the student's understanding of the field and c) encourages verbal
communication between exhibitors and judges.
Ideally, exhibitors will be well organized, familiar with their
field of study, relatively composed, courteous and eager to learn. Please
remember, however, that for many young exhibitors this is their first experience
in a pressure situation. The importance of a positive approach cannot be
over-emphasized. Your own maturity will prove a valuable tool in drawing out theirs.
The Overall Project
A display may be dazzling, the notebook neat and well written and the
interview eloquent but, if the basic project idea (the question to be
answered or the problem to be solved) and method of answering or solving it
won't fly, the student has not become a better scientist or engineer by doing
the project. A review of the Judging Criteria on the score sheet available at
the fair should prove useful in evaluating the overall project.