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The GSDSEF has three types of judging with various awards:


Categorical Judging – PLACE AWARDS

Category Judges decide the GSDSEF’s award placements (first, second, third, and fourth place) in 16 different categories (e.g. Math, Chemistry, Engineering, Computer Science, Medicine and Health Sciences), based on scientific merit using specified criteria. Categorical judging takes place in the morning.

  • All students are given a Certificate of Merit for participating.
  • All students receive a Place Award ribbon on-stage at the Awards Ceremony.


Sweepstakes Judging – SWEEPSTAKES AWARDS

Teams of Sweepstakes Judges review projects that have been recommended by the Category Judges for Sweepstakes consideration. Sweepstakes judging takes place in the afternoon and Sweepstakes Judges must be willing to stay until at least 3 p.m. the day of Judging.  

  • Four Sweepstakes and four Sweepstakes Runners-up are selected in the Junior Division (7th -8th grade) and receive cash awards and a plaque/trophy.
  • Four Sweepstakes Runners-Up/Alternates are selected in the Senior Division (9th -12th grade) and each receive a cash award and a plaque.
  • Six to eight Sweepstakes are selected in the Senior Division. Each receives a college scholarship award, an engraved plaque, and the opportunity to compete in the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair.
  • One Senior Division Sweepstakes winner receives a scholarship from AFCEA.


Professional Societies Judging – SPECIAL AWARDS

Over 60 Professional Societies and other organizations provide their own judges and each sets their own criteria for awards. Professional Societies/Organizations judge student projects during the afternoon of judging day.

Professional Societies and organizations provide their own awards - ribbons, certificates, or plaques, and/or monetary scholarships. Awards may be left with the GSDSEF for distribution directly to students or the Professional Society may arrange another method to present their awards. Several of the Professional Societies present their awards at their own banquets or board meetings and certain organizations/companies present their Special Awards on stage at the Awards Ceremony.

  • Special Awards individually given on-stage at the Awards Ceremony: Fred H. Rohr Award, Ronald E. Domb Memorial Award, Mickey Award, Professional Engineers in California Government, Reuben H. Fleet Award, San Diego Zoo Global Award, and Student Advisory Award. Other Special Awards may also be given.

Who are the Category and Sweepstakes Judges?

Category judges are scientists, engineers, computer science/technology specialists, professors, and other professionals, whether currently working, or retired. They are community members who are interested in encouraging the young people of San Diego and Imperial Counties to consider a career in science, engineering, technology, or mathematics.

Sweepstakes judges have 5 or more years of experience in judging science fairs.

Awards are announced at the 64th Annual Awards Ceremony. Students receive their place awards on stage culminating with the Sweepstakes Winners announcement. The 2018 Awards Ceremony will be held at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.