Category Awards Criteria:
- the quality of the work done on a project in science, engineering or mathematics by a student, and how well that student understands the project and the area in which he/she has been working. Only secondarily are we evaluating the physical display.
- level of laboratory, field or theoretical work and not just library research or gadgeteering.
- a student’s own work, appropriate for their grade level (and not that of a Ph.D. candidate or a professional)
- a project as compared with the other projects in the same category at this fair
Senior Division Awards Criteria:
I. Creative Ability (30 points)
- Does the project show creative ability and originality in the questions asked?
- The approach to solving the problem, the analysis of the data, the interpretation of the data?
- The use of equipment, the construction or design of new equipment?
- Creative research should support an investigation and help answer a question in an original way.
- A creative contribution promotes an efficient and reliable method for solving a problem. When evaluating projects, it is important to distinguish between gadgeteering and ingenuity.
II. Scientific Thought/Engineering Goals (30 points)
Scientific Thought (for scientific projects)
- Is the problem stated clearly and unambiguously?
- Was the problem sufficiently limited to allow a plausible approach? Good scientists can identify important problems capable of solutions.
- Was there a procedural plan for obtaining a solution?
- Are the variables clearly recognized and defined?
- If controls were necessary, did the student recognize their need and were they correctly used?
- Are there adequate data to support the conclusions?
- Does the finalist recognize the data’s limitations?
- Does the finalist understand the project’s ties to related research?
- Does the finalist have an idea of what further research is warranted?
- Did the finalist cite scientific literature, or only popular literature (local newspapers, Reader’s Digest)?
Engineering Goals (for engineering projects)
- Does the project have a clear objective?
- Is the objective relevant to the potential user’s needs?
- Is the solution workable, acceptable to the potential user, economically feasible?
- Could the solution be utilized successfully in design or construction of an end product?
- Is the solution a significant improvement over previous alternatives?
- Has the solution been tested for performance under the conditions of use?
III. Thoroughness (15 points)
- Was the purpose carried out to completion within the scope of the original intent?
- How completely was the problem covered?
- Are the conclusions based on a single experiment or replication?
- How complete are the project notes?
- Is the finalist aware of other approaches or theories?
- How much time did the finalist spend on the project?
- Is the finalist familiar with scientific literature in the studied field?
IV. Skill (15 points)
- Does the finalist have the required laboratory, computation, observational and design skills to obtain supporting data?
- Where was the project performed? (home, school laboratory, university laboratory) Did the student receive assistance from parents, teachers, scientists, or engineers?
- Was the project completed under adult supervision, or did the student work largely alone?
- Where did the equipment come from? Was it built independently by the finalist? Was it obtained on loan? Was it part of a laboratory where the finalist worked?
V. Clarity (10 points)
- How clearly does the finalist discuss the project and explain the purpose, procedure, and conclusions? Watch out for memorized speeches that reflect little understanding of principles.
- Does the written material reflect the finalist’s understanding of the research?
- Are the important phases of the project presented in an orderly manner?
- How clearly is the data presented?
- How clearly are the results presented?
- How well does the project display explain the project?
- Was the presentation done in a forthright manner, without tricks or gadgets?
- Did the finalist perform all the project work, or did someone help?