ISEF is a wonderful experience. Even though everyone at ISEF is intelligent, most of the students are all pretty normal high school kids who are friendly and NOT geeky. ISEF is not a boring science competition. Judging only takes up one part of the experience, and the rest is pure fun. Believe us when we tell you that you are going to have a blast!
I thought it might be a good idea to discuss some general tips for ISEF. Please add any more tips that you can think of.General Advice:
-Don't take the AP tests during ISEF! You want to enjoy ISEF as much as possible, and if you are worrying about AP grades then it will be more difficult to have fun. Take them on a make up date if you can. That's what I did and it worked out well.
-DO NOT DO HOMEWORK while at ISEF. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You will have plenty of time to do homework while traveling or after ISEF. Ask your teachers for extensions and explain that this is a really important competition and that you won't have time to do work.
-Print out a small section that discusses how you obtained each image/picture on your display board. ISEF wants you to have image credits, even if you took all the pictures yourself. You can either put it on your display board or next to it.
-Bring a small paper holder or frame to place your abstract in (they give you a nice stamped abstract when you arrive). This makes your display look professional and people will be able to see your abstract better.Fun Advice:
-Bring at least fifty pins to trade with other people, a hundred is even better. Some regional fairs give you free pins, others don't. Ask local businesses if they will sponsor pins for you, or buy tons at a tourist shop and ask if you can have a discount. If you don't bring pins you will regret it!
-Participate in lots of activities, meet lots of people. Past activities have included parties, horseback riding in the desert, going to the zoo, going to museums, and lots of other fun things.
-Don't worry about staying up late talking to people and having fun. Just go to bed early the day before judging, and then stay up late all the other days.
-If your parents are attending, make sure you don't just hang around them the entire time. Go and meet other students!
-Dress up in nice business suit attire
-Read the judging guidelines and make sure you hit upon each section in your presentation. You can find the guidelines here: http://www.societyforscience.org/Page.aspx?pid=290
. Look at the criteria in the pdf file.
-Practice makes perfect (or as close to perfect as you can get). Practice your presentation multiple times in front of family and friends before the judging. You won't stumble as much during your presentation, and you will remember which key things to talk about. For more information about the judging process and how to do well, go here: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/top_science-fair_judging_tips.shtml
-Don't be too nervous! Most of the judges are very friendly and enjoy talking to you about your project. Even if a judge or two does not seem to like your project you still have a good chance of winning.