This document is the "Judge's Guide" given to judges at the fair. This is the definitive text on how projects are to be judged.
Science fairs provide young people who are motivated towards science with an occasion to have their work evaluated. These fairs constitute an important source of encouragement to students to develop interests beyond the constraints of the formal education environment.
Exhibitors in the VIRSF are students ranging from Grades 4 through 12. They should enjoy and learn from every stage of doing a project - even being judged.
In evaluating their efforts you have the opportunity to:
They are competing for trophies, plaques and ribbons, and subject to availability of funds, for expense-paid trips to compete as regional representatives in the Canada-Wide Science Fair (grades 7 through 12 only). Four divisions are recognized: Elementary (grades 4 & 5), Intermediate (grades 6 & 7), Junior (grades 8 & 9), and Senior (grades 10, 11 &12). The exhibits are assigned to judges (approximately 4-6 per judge) based on areas of expertise.
It is the student's work in planning and executing a science project which is to be judged. The exhibit should be regarded as a reflection of a student's work, but this should be verified through questioning (help received from others should be acknowledged and should be considered by judges). Projects should involve laboratory, field, or theoretical investigations. Library research and collections may be worthwhile supplements but, by themselves, these do not normally merit a high rating. Equipment construction should involve a creative approach or an original idea to merit a high rating. Commercially fabricated equipment may be used in exhibits, but the impressiveness or "glitter" of such equipment should not affect an evaluation. Remember, it is the STUDENT'S work which is to be judged.
All entries should be judged according to relative merit without regard to the student's age. [Divisions ensure that younger students will have a fair opportunity to win awards]. However, the exhibitors are not Ph.D. candidates - they are elementary or secondary school students and should be judged against an appropriate standard.
Every student deserves a fair portion of a judge's time.
At the outset, judges should casually examine a representative sample of exhibits to establish a standard against which to judge. Upon approaching an assigned exhibit, identify yourself (you will be provided with a name tag and a ribbon) and examine the display. First give the student an opportunity to make an oral presentation, when you will be looking for a clear explanation that shows interest, enthusiasm, care and understanding. Then use a question and discussion time to ascertain his/her level of understanding of the project and related fields and to clarify the objectives and methodology of the project. It is important to find something positive to comment on. Each exhibit will have a judges' record sheet. Please sign when you have judged the exhibit. Once you have withdrawn, do two things: (i) assign scores using the judging criteria (see below), and (ii) complete a judge's comments form as feedback for the student.
Exhibits are to be judged on the following basis. See below for specific category definitions.
Within each group, the judge should consider the following points:
Guidelines for judging scientific thought (experiment, study and innovation defined).
The written report must be prepared by the student, and cannot exceed five (5) pages, 22 x 28 cm size (approx 8.5 x 11 in), double-spaced, 12 pt. font, typewritten on one side only (or the handwritten equivalent thereof) including all graphs, diagrams, etc. Reports in excess of this limit will be penalized. The report should have a simple format, and include an INTRODUCTION (stating the aims and objectives of the work), a summary of TECHNIQUES used during the study, a summary of RESULTS, and CONCLUSIONS. There is no need to include tables, graphs and raw data in the report. These items should be with the project.