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What questions will the Judges ask in interviews?

Postby mdg20816 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:48 am

This will be our first science fair and now that the questions' been asked and answered, the research paper is done, the display board is ready we now have to prepare for the actual fair.

Is there a list of questions that judges typically ask? Do you have any advice on what I need to prepare or be ready to answer?

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Re: What questions will the Judges ask in interviews?

Postby barretttomlinson » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:34 am


What questions will judges ask at your science fair? Every science fair is a little different, and I have no knowledge anout yours. I did judge at my local science fair last week, and the following questions were ones I had to answer when judging a project:

Scientific Thought (For Science projects only)
Is the problem stated clearly and unambiguously?
Was the problem sufficiently limited to allow plausible attack? Good scientists can identify important problems capable of solutions. Neither working on a difficult problem without getting anywhere nor solving an extremely simple problem is a substantial contribution.
Was there a procedural plan for obtaining a solution?
Are the variables clearly recognized and defined?
If controls are necessary, did the student recognize their need and were they correctly used?
Are there adequate data to support the conclusions?
Does the student or team recognize the data's limitations?
Does the student/team understand the project's ties to related research?
Does the student/team have an idea of what further research is warranted?
Did the student/team cite scientific literature, or only popular magazines?

Engineering Goals (For Engineering projects)
Does the project have a clear objective?
Is the objective relevant to the potential user's needs?
Is the solution
(a) workable?
(b) acceptable to the potential user?
(c) economically feasible? Unworkable solutions might seem interesting but are not practical. Solutions that will be rejected or ignored are not valuable. A solution so expensive it cannot be utilized is not valuable.
Could the solution be utilized successfully in design or construction of some end product?
Is the solution a significant improvement over previous alternatives?
Has the solution been tested for performance under the conditions of use? (Testing might prove difficult, but should be considered.)

Creative Ability Does the project show creativity and originality in
(a) the question asked?
(b) the approach to solving the problem?
(d) the interpretation of the data?
(f) the construction or design of new equipment?
An original idea for a project would show greater creativity than a suggested project from a textbook. Obviously no project is creative and original in every aspect. Remember that a creative and original project for high school students is different from that of professionals. Conversely, some projects may contain elements that seem original; the materials may have come from new curricula in textbooks or laboratory manuals unfamiliar to judges.
Also consider how much help a student received. A student's or team's approach to solving a problem may seem original, but may have come from a scientist's or engineer's suggestions. If a student received help on a project, any credit for creative ability and originality should reflect the student's own contributions. This should become clear through careful questioning.
Creative research should support an investigation and help answer a question in an original way. The assembly of a kit would not be creative unless an unusual approach was taken. Collections should not be considered creative unless they are used to support an investigation, and to help answer a question in an original way.
A creative contribution promotes an efficient and reliable way to solve a problem. When judging, make sure to distinguish between gadgeteering and genuine creativity.


Was the purpose carried out to completion within the scope of the original intent?
How completely was the problem covered?
Are the conclusions based on a single experiment, or are there replications?
How complete are the project notes?
Is the student/team aware of other approaches or theories?
How much time did the student/team spend on the project?
Is the student/team familiar with scientific literature in the field?

Does the student/team have the skills required to do all the work necessary to obtain the data that support the project? Laboratory skills? Computational skills? Observational skills? Design skills?
Where was the project done? (i.e., home, school laboratory, university laboratory) Did the student or team receive assistance from parents, teachers, scientists, or engineers?
Was the project done under adult supervision, or did the student/team work largely alone?
Where did the equipment come from? Was it built independently by the student or team? Was it obtained on loan? Was it part of a laboratory where the student or team worked?

How clearly can the student discuss the project and explain the project's purpose, procedure, and conclusions? Make allowances for nervousness. Watch out for memorized speeches that reflect little understanding of the principles.
Does the written material reflect the student's or team's understanding of the research? (Take outside help into account.)
Are the important phases of the project presented in an orderly manner?
How clearly are the data presented? “

Here are some questions the fair suggested judges ask students during the interviews:

Here are some questions that judges might ask …
• Why/How did you choose this project?
• What is the purpose of the project?
• What did you learn from your background search?
• What do you mean by (terminology or jargon used by the student)?
• What variable did you intentionally change?
• What variables were hard to control?
• How many times did you repeat the experiment?
• How did your results relate to your hypothesis?
• Could your data be explained any other way?
• If you conducted the experiment again, what would you do differently?
• What additional experiments would you suggest?
• What problems did you run into while conducting your experiment?
• Who would be interested in the results of your experiment?
• What was the most important thing you learned in the experiment?
• How did you account for variation?
• Could your data be explained any other way?

I hope this gives you some idea of what you might expect if your science fair is anything like mine.

Good luck and have fun at the fair!!!!

Best regards,

Barrett L Tomlinson

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