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The following criteria are used to evaluate each project:
Scientific Thought and Understanding - 50%
This is the most important criterion for judging a project’s merit. The major purpose of the Science Fair is to provide a vehicle for the student to engage in the process of science through an Experiment, an Innovation or a Study. In an experimental project, that process includes physical acts such as data gathering. In an Innovation project, the process involves the scientific evaluation of new devices, models, theorems, physical theories, techniques, or methods in technology. In a Study, the process may involve the scientific analysis of pre-existing data. Such physical processes are meaningless if they are not accompanied by scientific thinking. Once results are obtained, devices built or data analysed, it is the interpretation of those results that is significant. Some aspects of scientific thought include:
- a hypothesis or project design that is clear and well stated based on reading, study, and/or observation. The depth of study is a factor here.
- an experimental procedure that is effective in testing the hypothesis, or an innovative design that is an effective solution to the problem posed, or a study designed to produce significant new insights.
- results and conclusions that are clear, honestly stated, logical, and relevant to the project.
- a clear discussion of any experimental results, design or data analysis.
- carefully considered suggestions for extending the project.
- a demonstration of the deep knowledge of the scientific and/or engineering principles involved.
- a careful extrapolation from what was learned to the subject in general or to related subjects.
Originality & Creativity – 33%
Science Fair projects are not expected to be publishable research (although some are). However, originality or creativity is possible even if the project is relatively trivial scientifically or covers well-trodden ground. It is important to take the grade level and age of the finalist into consideration. What is new and creative for a finalist in Grade 7 might well be superficial for a high school finalist in Grade 12. Some aspects of originality/creativity include:
- an original problem or an original approach to an old problem.
- a creative approach to the design of the experiment, the innovation or the project overall.
- an ingenious use of materials and equipment.
- creative or original thinking in the application and the interpretation of any data obtained.
- a project that goes beyond textbooks written at the finalist’s grade level.
Communication - 17%
Communication is composed of four components: the visual display, the oral presentation, the project report with background research and the logbook.
Visual Display: A good display tells the story of the project in a logical progression. It uses headings, bullet points, graphs and text in appropriate ways. It can be read from a distance of 1 metre. It uses attractive colour schemes. Judges will evaluate the Visual Display in the absence of the students immediately following the Judges Orientation.
Oral Presentation: The presenter is logical and enthusiastic. The five minute introduction is well thought out and rehearsed, but not memorized verbatim. Questions are handled clearly and show sound knowledge of the project and the associated background.
Project Report: There are specific rules for the Project Report1. It is five pages double spaced, with two extra pages allowed for references and bibliography. It tells the story of the project with clarity and accuracy. Typical section headings for an experimental project might be: Introduction; Hypothesis; Experiments; Analysis of Data; Conclusion. The grammar is good, and there are no spelling errors. SI units are used. The reports will be available to the judges for download a few days before the fair opens.
Project Log: The Project Log may consist of a few pages, or a few binders of over 100 pages each. Judges will evaluate the Project Logs in the absence of the students immediately following the Judges Orientation. You will not have time to read them on judging day.
This completes those components of evaluation to which we assign a Level and Rating. These are used in the judging for Excellence Awards to allow a single judge to decide in a systematic way whether project A is better than project B.