Judging Criteria

What Are You Judging?

You are judging the quality of work done on a student’s research project in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. The project must involve laboratory, field or theoretical work, not only library research. The project should have a clear hypothesis, a research plan and a conclusion; the actual display is of lesser importance. The project should be compared and judged with all of the other projects in the same grade level on the actual day of judging and you must not consider other similar projects from past fairs or past experiences. The criteria for judging are listed below and include key items to consider for evaluation both before and after the interview. Judges should examine the student notebook and, and if present, any special forms required for individual student projects.

The interview provides the opportunity to interact with the student and evaluate their understanding of the project’s basic science, interpretation and limitations of the results, and conclusions. It is very important to determine who did the work and how much the student was involved. However, do not fall into the trap that a sophisticated project could not be the work of the student; some of these students are quite capable and brilliant, that is why they are here!


Priority is to be given to the Research Question, Design and Methodology, Execution, Creativity, and Presentation. The following weights are given as a guide, but your decisions will be by consensus of your judging team.

         Research Question                                               10 pts
         Design and Methodology                                     20 pts
         Execution                                                               20 pts
         Creativity                                                                 15 pts
         Presentation: Interview                                         25 pts
         Presentation: Project Board/Poster                     10 pts


      • Clear and focused purpose
      • Was the question sufficiently limited to allow plausible attack?
      • Testable using scientific methods
      • Student use of scientific literature or popular literature
      • Is the student aware of other approaches or theories concerning the project?

Engineering Design & Scientific Methodology:

     • Well designed plan and data collection methods
     • Variables and controls defined, appropriate and complete

Execution: Data Collection, Analysis & Interpretation

      • Systematic data collection and analysis
      • Were there adequate data to support the conclusions?
      • Reproduction of results
      • Appropriate application of mathematical and statistical methods
      • Sufficient data collected to support interpretation and conclusions


      • In the question asked
      • The use of instruments
      • Project demonstrates significant creativity in one or more of the above criteria


      • Clear, concise, thoughtful responses to question
      • Understanding of basic science relevant to project
      • Understanding interpretation and limitations of results and conclusions
      • Does the student have the required laboratory, computational, observational and design skills to obtain supporting data?
      • Degree of independence in conducting project
      • Recognition of potential impact in science, society and/or economics
      • Quality of ideas for further research
      • For team projects, contributions to and understanding of project by all members

Presentation-Project Board/Poster

      • Does it attract attention?
      • Logical organization of materials
      • Clarity of graphics and legends
      • Supporting documentation displayed
      • What parts of the display did the student create? Were others involved?