Science Fair

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What makes a great Science Fair project? Hear it from the judges!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Editor's note: We've invited guest blogger Christina Baker, former science teacher, visiting lecturer in Psychology at the University of Westminster in London and one of our preliminary judges of the Google Science Fair, to tell us what the judges are looking for in great science fair projects.

Being a scientist is a fantastic job! But as we tend become specialized in a single field, judging a science fair is a great way to keep abreast of the multitude of exciting developments across the scientific world as a whole.

We’re looking forward to seeing the ideas and projects from the best and brightest young scientists from around the world. So what will the judges be looking for among all the entries? Here are my top tips:

Help! Where do I start?

Start with the topic that most interests you or is most relevant to your life. If you’re excited about your idea, it will be much easier to enthuse the judges about your investigation. Read as much as you can about your chosen topic area. What research has already been carried out? What are the latest findings? What is yet to be investigated?

Bowl us over!

Each entry can only be submitted once, so while your overall submission is important, a good strategy is to try to stand out among the many other submissions in the first round. First round judging will only review your introductory film or presentation, and your summaries. So however impressive your supporting documentation is, it’s important to make your introduction and summaries really sing to grab the judges’ attention and get you to the next round. You need a strong idea, of course, but you also need to consider how to make it stand out among the other entries the judges will see.

Be clear

It’s important that your explanation is clear and doesn’t get lost in technical jargon. The best scientists are great communicators, and you need to make your explanation easy for anyone to understand – not just a judge!

Help is at hand

You need to keep adult help to a minimum – this is your entry, after all – but don’t be afraid to ask your teachers if you’re not sure about something or to help you stay safe. You won’t be penalized as long as you acknowledge the help you’ve had in the Works Cited section.

Passion makes perfect

You’re entering the science fair, so you’re obviously passionate about your scientific work. Let your enthusiasm shine through in what you write. Think of your entry as a thrilling story that you’re just bursting to share! The judges want to see that you’re excited about your discoveries and how they might be useful.

Never give up!

Don’t lose heart with your project, even when things don’t go as planned. You might have to modify it as you go along - that’s part of the process! Remember, results that fail to support a hypothesis can be just as relevant and interesting to the scientific community as those that do. Don’t despair; just explain what happened in your conclusion, and what this might mean. Have your findings opened up any potential new areas for future investigations?

Your science; everyone’s future

Some of the most inspiring ideas are ones that have the potential to bring about positive change to the world we live in. Whether your idea has a practical application or simply increases our knowledge about something, make sure your project is rooted in a sound scientific method. Remember that you are the scientists of the future and we want to be sure that our world will be in safe hands!

Christina Baker, Google Science Fair Preliminary Judge