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Science Fair Projects -- Are You Ready for Judgment Day?

Aug 17, 2007
The involved and energetic student has spent weeks, perhaps months on a science fair project. And now judgment day is approaching. Winning a prize would be nice, not earth shattering, but certainly a feather in the cap of the student. There are several things that the student should know to impress the judges.

Some science fairs actually permit you to meet and talk to the judges. You want to take advantage of this opportunity to make a good impression. Be prepared to discuss your project and summarize it in just a few minutes. You should have enough information to give the judges an idea of what it is all about without going into too much detail. Your speech should include how you got your idea for the project, how you did the experiment, your result and conclusions. You should appear energetic and happy to be there. The judges like students who appear to be happy to be at the science fair and happy to share their experience with others.

You must be certain that you use the scientific method when doing your project. The judges will be very careful to make sure that you did. If you are not certain of exactly what the scientific method is and how to apply it to your project, you can look it up on the internet and learn the step by step procedures. Originality is very important. You will usually be better off doing something original than doing the same old project that the judges see year after year.

Try to think of the questions the judges will ask and prepare your answers. For practice, you might try explaining your project to someone else and make believe that they are judges. They may ask things like "How much help did others give you? Why is your project important? What is the most interesting thing you learned doing this project? What problems did you have doing this project and how did you solve them?" What kind of controls did you use in your project? Did you take any photographs or did you provide colorful, original charts and tables? Did you illustrate the various steps you did to get to your conclusion?

Don't look like you just got through with football practice when you appear before the judges. Dress nicely. Do not mumble. Speak up and appear confident. Be honest. If the judge asks you something and you do not know the answer, do not try to fake it or to lie. Tell the truth. They will know immediately if you are trying to fool them. Appear concerned and interested. Do not appear matter of fact or disinterested. Make good use of your graphics and charts and photos. Point to them when appropriate to demonstrate your points. Explain why your project is important, and how it will help people.

Judges tend to emphasize creativity, originality and thoroughness. The guidelines are often made available before the fair. If you know exactly what the judges are looking for you can emphasize these points in your presentation.

You may face one judge, or there may be several. Do not get intimidated. Judges are moms and dads and are usually very tolerant and patient and will take a real interest in you and your project. Try to get feedback from them. Talk to them or email them after the science fair. This feedback will help you in the future.

Finding a project that interests you will make the project process much easier and enjoyable. How about a project in the earth sciences or life sciences? Maybe you enjoy other science topics such as physics, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, social sciences, chemistry, or the environment? Whatever project you choose, this is your time to shine. Be confident and enjoy yourself. Science is fun!
About the Author
Mort Barish is co-founder of Terimore Institute, Inc. Terimore provides hundreds of science fair projects with step-by-step guides for children in grades K-12 to help them successfully compete in science fairs. Find fun, easy and award-winning science fair projects at www.terimore.com!
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