Tuesday, May 09, 2006

5 Keys to Winning Science Fair Projects

Author: Robert Burke

The key to creating an award-winning science fair project is to understand what the judges are looking for - how they select a winner. The point scoring system for your science fair may differ from others -- there is no standardized point system -- but generally speaking, science fair judges have a similar method of judging. That is, they start with a neutral score, not good or bad, and then depending on the performance of the presenter, points can be added or subtracted from the final score. If you do the following things, there's a good chance to improve your score.


Is your project full of original and well-thought-out ideas? Were you clear in describing the problem you were researching? Be sure you know your material, especially the content of your final report. Was your science fair project too easy? A difficult or advanced project can make a difference in how the judges evaluate it, and whether or not it becomes a winning science fair project.


Are you knowledgeable about the experiment itself--did you design it and perform the experiments? Having a good command of the technical aspects of your project reflects very well on you. Know what you're talking about, and know your experimental data, but also know the ins and outs of the experimental apparatus.


Was your data collection scientifically professional? Be sure to use a journal to record data from the experiment. This demonstrates organization. Did you repeat the experiment? Repetition lends much more reliability to your data. Repeat it if you can.


Is your use of tables and graphs helpful to the judges in understanding your data? Did you use the tables and graphs correctly and collect enough data to reach a reliable conclusion? Make sure that you are confident in your final numbers. Science is all about proof.


Are you able to answer the judges' questions knowledgeably and confidently? Be sure to use your display while the judges talk to you. It isn't just a backdrop, it's a visual aid to the information that you've worked so hard to obtain. Make sure that you explain every element of the board and make sure that the board looks as professional as possible.


The final judging is mostly subjective. While the judges are looking for a few specific things, the way that you represent yourself and your project, and the way that your display board looks can make the difference between leaving a poor impression, and impressing the judges with your award winning science fair project.

About the author: Robert Burke has a Master of Science degree in Engineering, and many years of experience in science education, industry and writing. Read more of his articles about science fairs and science projects at Science Made Simple (http://www.sciencemadesimple.com).


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