What to Expect During the Judging

What Should You Do?

1. You should prepare an oral summary of the important points in the project which you can present in no more than 60 seconds. Your judges will already have read your abstract, so if you've done a good job there (see Directions) your summary will remind them of questions that occurred to them earlier.

2. Following your summary, you may find it useful to prepare several short capsule descriptions of important aspects of your project. You know your project better than anyone, so you should have the best ideas of what is important, but you could prepare answers for such questions as "Where did you get the idea for this project?" "What is special or distinctive about your project?" "What is the next thing you would do with your results?" "What questions has your project now generated?" You might also explicitly prepare for the question you hope the judges will ask.

3. If yours is a team project, one person should act as the team spokesman at the beginning and present the oral summary. This summary should include the rationale for the project being a group, rather than an individual, enterprise, and how each member contributed. Each member of the group should be fully knowledgeable about the project and be prepared to then discuss his/her part.

4. You will be provided with a list of judges for your category and their qualifications. Special and Recognition Awards judges will not be included. Be sure to have each judge initial the front of your project placard in the space provided at the conclusion of each interview. This is your record of your project's judges.

What Should You Expect The Judges To Do?

1. At the beginning of the judging period the chair of your category's panel may assemble and speak to the entire group of students. Watch for this.

2. You should be interviewed by at least five different judges for your category who will spend about 8 minutes discussing your project with you. It is difficult to space these interviews equally, so don't get discouraged if there is a long wait between judges. Don't worry about comparing the number of your judges with your neighbors. You, or they, may be getting Special and Recognition Awards interviews.

3. Many judges prefer to learn about your project by asking questions. Be prepared for them to interrupt your presentation.

What Other Things May Happen During The Judging?

The California Science & Engineering Fair is a major event. You may find that your interviews with the judges will be competing with newspaper reporters (some with photographers), radio reporters, TV cameras (with their bright lights) and other video recorders for possible promotions of future Fairs.

This is also a major event for the California Science Center, and they are proud to give publicity to you as a promising scientist or engineer. Although it may interrupt a judging interview as caravans of officials and VIPs come through the exhibits, you should recognize it also as an honor for you and your fellow participants.

Finally, during the second session of judging, Recognition Awards will be presented to students at their project displays. (Special Awards are presented at the Awards Ceremony later in the day.) These Award presentations will often be modest and quiet, but some will involve a sizeable number of presenters who may be accompanied by the media.

California Science & Engineering Fair / What to Expect / CSEF@usc.edu