Dear Students,

We would like to offer you guidelines to present your projects at the regional fair.

  1. Question/Problem/Goal
    Judges will want to know what goal you had in mind when you decided on your project: How did you come up with your idea? What did you expect to achieve? How will this benefit society or the understanding of science? What was your hypothesis and what was it based on?
  2. Design and Methodology
    Judges will want to know how you tested your hypothesis, and collected and analyzed your data: What method did you use to test your hypothesis? Be sure to define your constants, variables, and a control group (if applicable.) How many trials did you run? (Three trials are considered the minimum for a valid experiment; however, the more data you have, the more solid your results.) If you were working with human subjects, what criteria did you use to select your participants and why did you select them? If it is an engineering project, how many prototypes did you build? Were you testing different materials or different techniques? Did you have a constant against which to measure your tests or designs?
  3. Execution
    Judges will evaluate how well you executed your plan. Analyzing quantitative data is very important. If you are in the Senior Division, the use of statistics is beneficial. Talk to your math teacher about how to interpret your data and how to present it.
  4. Creativity
    Judges will want to know how you approached a problem. Almost every topic selected by a middle or high school student has been studied before; therefore, how well have you researched what others have already done in your chosen subject? How did your approach differ from what has been done before? Have you thought of a more elegant or simpler way of doing an experiment? What aspect of your project was novel? If you were working with a mentor or in a lab, be sure to keep good records of which portions of the study or experiment you have completed on your own versus what the mentor or lab director has done.

    Please note: Key points of Sections 1-4 for students in the Senior Division should be summarized in an Abstract. Judges will receive your Abstract prior to the judging day and will use it to prepare questions they want to ask you. Ask someone to read your abstract before the submission deadline (hint: consider asking your Language Arts teacher for help).
  5. Presentation

    Interview (Live or recorded presentation)
    Judges will want to hear a 60-90 second opening statement: 1) what you did, 2) why it was important to do, 3) how you did it and 4) what you found out. For live interviews, judges have about 5-7 minutes for each project. If your initial statement is too long, they might have to "cut you off" to ask the questions.

    Hint: Be sure to look at the judges when you talk and make eye contact. You can check your board for a quick reference, but then turn back around and face the judge. Practice giving your speech and answering questions at home and at school with people who are not familiar with your project. At the end, thank the judges for their interest.

    For Team Projects Only: Judges will expect each team member to participate in the interview and know the basics of the project, even if everyone has different responsibilities. Practice giving your speech as a team and decide who will present which portion.

Final thoughts:

  • Dress so judges respect you as a professional - they want to know that you are serious about being there and presenting your ideas to them;
  • Wear comfortable shoes - you will be standing on hard concrete floors for several hours;
  • Bring a book or a game to keep yourself occupied while you wait for judges; and
  • Relax and enjoy the process - judges volunteer their time because they are interested in the work young scientists do; in other words, they want to hear your thoughts and encourage you to continue your work!