Science Fair

02.02.11

posted by: mcrocker

I recently judged again at a local science fair, and I could not help but be curious about the scoring process that I was involved in.  I know that I am second guessing myself a lot recently, but I was really worried that none of the projects I judged were included as any of the winners.  I would say there were about 30 projects, and about 10 winners, so it could just be random variation.  However, I talked to some of the other judges there, and I felt that there was a significant difference between my group’s average rating ~45 and the other group’s average ~55.  The points were out of 60, and other judges told me that 60 was awarded multiple times by their group.  The highest my group awarded was 49.  It made me feel bad, almost that I should have known to judge differently, or something.

After further reflection, however, I decided that there is nothing to suggest that I judged wrongly.  There might have been much better science fair projects than the ones I judged.  Also, I trust that if there was a really excellent one (or two or three), it (or they) would have won, no matter any sort of scoring inflation or inconsistency.  Also, the organizers might have had something in place to account for the differences in the judges.  I hope this is just a symptom of my current woes, which stem more from me approaching my Ph.D., dealing with big-picture life issues, and dealing with the long waiting period of a very competitive job search.

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4 Responses to “Science Fair”

  1. rquardok Says:

    I think it’s a valid concern. I’ve helped students prepare for science fairs and it is no walk in the park. The students have to do a TON of work (both paperwork and work for their projects) I think that the judges should go through more training, or the process could be done differently to ensure fairness.

  2. pmooney Says:

    Michael, Scoring science fair projects is difficult. Judges often have different backgrounds and different expectations. Training/instruction may help some. I prefer feedback over scoring. This helps the student know where the judge thought the project’s strengths and weaknesses were. Then the teacher could review these comments with each student and make the scoring judgment himself/herself. More work for the teacher, but student learning might be enhanced. Pat

  3. acarr Says:

    speaking of feedback….michael, after the scores were given at the fair, did the students still have a chance to get feeback? or do they just receive the score/winner status?

  4. mcrocker Says:

    I filled out a score sheet that had plenty of space for comments, most of which were labeled as “areas for improvement.” We (me and my judging partner) were as complete as possible in giving feedback in all categories to the science projects we reviewed. I assume that the students would get those scoring sheets back at the end.

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