Preparing for ISEF

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Preparing for ISEF

Postby got2surf » Mon May 04, 2009 7:02 pm

Hey guys,

A couple of months ago I qualified for ISEF. I had a few questions about judging, though:

1) About how many judges should I expect?
2) How long do the judges have to spend (so that I can design my presentation accordingly)
3) Should my presentation be completely memorized, or will the judges not appreciate that?
4) Here is a small picture of my board ( http://www.fosf-miami.org/state09/p/ima ... 1B_jpg.jpg ). It's already shipped to Reno, so I can't really change it, but what is your general opinion of it. I apologize for the small size, but will try to find a larger image soon. There is a quite a bit of text, but also a large amount of flip charts and graphs. Any suggestions for future years?

Thanks a lot,

got2surf
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Project Question: Analysis of Sonification (dont want to give it all away ;)
Project Due Date: 2/14/09
Project Status: I am finished with my experiment and analyzing the data

Re: Preparing for ISEF

Postby Terik Daly » Tue May 05, 2009 5:10 am

Hi got2surf,

Congratulation on making it to ISEF. I will answer your questions later this afternoon when I have a few more minutes.
All the best,
Terik
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Re: Preparing for ISEF

Postby mpphlipot » Tue May 05, 2009 6:38 am

Congrats, got2surf, on getting to ISEF! If things run this year as they have in recent years:

1, 2. The judging day is broken up into several ½ hour blocks. Some of those blocks will be scheduled for you to talk to grand award judges. You will have a card on your project table that indicates which slots are booked. Other slots are open for other special awards judges (e.g., Army, Navy, corporations…) to talk to you if they wish. So you get about 25-30 minutes per judge. You can probably figure on talking to 6-10 judges throughout the day.

3. No way. The last thing a judge wants to hear is a memorized speech. Anyone can do that. They are looking for thorough understanding by having thoughtful answers to their questions. At best, have about a 2-5 minute pitch ready. I hesitate to say memorized because that sounds too robotic. Rather, just remember the key points you want to include and build around that. Don’t be surprised if some judges don’t even let you give your short pitch. Many don’t want to waste their limited time with you by listening to something you have prepared. Rather, they want to drill down into the details as quick as possible. Most judges will have looked at your project prior to your being there so they probably already get the gist of whatever you’d say, anyway.

4. It’s hard to tell much given the small size of the picture. I like the colors and contrast. It makes your content stand out well against the background. It also looks very orderly. My initial impression is that this student is enthusiastic about sharing their project and put a lot of work into the display. That’s a very good first impression to make! There is no single right way to design a board. Everyone has different opinions of what they like and dislike. There is certainly a fine line of communicating everything you want on the board and yet not overwhelming the viewer. Also, the project itself is going to dictate how much info you put on your board. My personal preference is to keep the board more on the simple side. Larger but lesser text. I like the idea of flip charts since it makes a lot of the details accessible for the person that really wants to dig in but doesn’t confuse the person who is trying to understand the basic concept of your project.

Best of luck at ISEF. I hope you really enjoy the experience.
Mike
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Re: Preparing for ISEF

Postby got2surf » Tue May 05, 2009 4:38 pm

Thanks Mike. I am really looking forward to the experience! Especially, as a freshman, I am interested in continuing my project over the next 3 years. I have gotten a spot to research at a very good lab, and am really seeking just to improve for later years.

In looking at your comments, it seems like the judges listen to your brief overview, and then ask questions. My problem is that I have a lot of terms to define, and have a pretty complex procedure that I would like to highlight. The thing is, my presentation is not recitation. My project is on sonification, or communicating information through manipulating the variables of non-speech audio. So, throughout my explanation, I have the judges listen to a variety of sample sonifications that my program created, as well as take a quiz on matching some audio representations to their visual counterparts. Since this is not the traditional recitation, would it be fine for my explanation to last 5 to 7 minutes, accompanied with interactions with the judge?

I am really trying to figure out a way to concisely explain a mass of information to the judge, so that they can understand the project before asking questions. I'm sure many others have faced this dilemma, but am trying to find that line between explanation and allowing the judge to ask questions.

Thanks a lot,

got2surf
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Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:59 pm
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Project Question: Analysis of Sonification (dont want to give it all away ;)
Project Due Date: 2/14/09
Project Status: I am finished with my experiment and analyzing the data

Re: Preparing for ISEF

Postby mpphlipot » Tue May 05, 2009 5:12 pm

Your project sounds very interesting. It looks like you have a unique project where a demonstration may be considered key to understanding the project. Perhaps, once you meet each judge you can suggest that you start with a brief demonstration of your research. I suspect most will want the demo. If a judge really doesn’t want it, they’ll say so and I’d then recommend you just let them take the lead with the interview.

You should be aware that all of the grand awards judges (those that are scheduled into specific slots with you), know the night before that they are assigned to judge your project. Most of them will have spent quite a bit of time that evening familiarizing themselves with the details of your project. Assuming your board is well organized and informative, those judges will already have a pretty good understanding of what you did before they even meet you.

Consider that ISEF really is the best of the best and easily half or more of the projects are of the caliber that they stand a chance of winning one of the grand awards. The judges have but 30 minutes with the student to distinguish the finer points that separate all these very excellent projects. Each judge has their own approach to sorting out those distinctions. You need to be adaptable to what each is trying to discover with your project. Try to just go with the flow and have fun.

Mike
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Re: Preparing for ISEF

Postby Terik Daly » Tue May 05, 2009 7:28 pm

I heartily agree with Mike's advice. I would also add that all of the judges have a PhD or at least many years of experience in their field. You will be judged by people who are very familiar with your subject area and will most likely be familiar with at least some of the vocabulary you will be using. Since they have also had a lot of time with your project beforehand, focusing on giving the judges adequate time to ask probing questions really is essential.
All the best,
Terik
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