Science Judging Criteria **

For science exhibits, there are several different aspects that we use to judge each exhibit. The first is a set of four general categories by which every participant is judged: creative ability, thoroughness, skill, and clarity. Each of these categories are graded using various criteria, as follows:

Creative Ability

  • Is the topic idea original or innovative?
  • Is the approach to solving the problem or developing an explanation creative?
  • Did the student use the equipment and information services resourcefully?
  • Was the interpretation of data valid and insightful?
  • Is the information included in the display interesting?
  • Did the student’s research help answer a question in a creative way?


  • 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? How much time did the participant(s) spend on the project?
  • Is/Are the student(s) aware of other approaches or theories? Is/Are the student(s) familiar with scientific literature in the studied field?


  • Does the project represent the student’s/students’ own work being performed in a suitable location (lab, university, home, etc.)?
  • Was the project completed under adult supervision, or did the student(s) work largely alone? Did the participant(s) receive assistance from parents, teachers, scientists, or engineers?
  • Is necessary scientific skill demonstrated by using appropriate equipment? Was resourcefulness demonstrated by building independently or borrowing equipment to create a valid testing environment?


  • Do the conclusions make sense based on the results and are they related back to the hypothesis? Does the written material reflect the student’s/students’understanding of the research?
  • Are the important phases of the project presented in an orderly manner? How clearly are the data/results presented in the project display? Are the charts/graphs appropriate, relevant and sufficient?

Along with these four general categories, there are several topic specific categories that are evaluated based on the topic and composition of the group. Non-engineering exhibits are judged based on one set of criteria, while engineering exhibits are graded by another, and lastly team projects are graded by the final category. Exhibits are only judged on the specific categories for which they qualify.

Scientific Thought (non-Engineering only)
  • Is the problem stated clearly?
  • Is the statement of expectation or hypothesis clear? (Did they explain what they think will happen and why?)
  • Was the problem sufficiently limited to allow plausible approach and the variables clearly recognized and defined?
  • Was an original procedural plan for obtaining the solution established and clearly communicated?
  • Were there controls and adequate data to support the conclusions and were any limitations of the data stated?
  • Is a project notebook provided with the display? Is there an understanding of related research or citation of scientific literature?

Scientific Thought (Engineering only)

  • Does the project have a clear objective?
  • Is the objective relevant to the potential user’s needs?
  • Is the solution workable? Is it acceptable to the potential user? Is it 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?

Teamwork (Team Exhibits only)

  • Are the tasks and contributions of each team member clearly outlined?
  • Was each team member fully involved with the project, and is each member familiar with all aspects?
  • Does the final work reflect the coordinated efforts of all team members?
  • Does the complexity and quantity of the final work reflect a significant effort from all team members?

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