How to Judge

Judges Handbook

Download a pdf handbook of more detailed information on judging science fair projects including the rubric and explanations of each criteria.

General Tips

Finalists may have worked on a research project for more than one year. However, for the purpose of judging, ONLY research conducted since the last Intel ISEF is to be evaluated. Although previous work is important, it is not to be considered as part of this year’s ISEF project.

Examine the quality of the finalist’s work, and how well the finalist understands his or her project and area of study. The physical display is secondary to the student’s knowledge of the subject. As mentioned earlier, if the project is a multi-year effort, the Finalist is required to have an Intel ISEF Continuation Projects Form 7 visible at the project. Please be cognizant of the fact that the only work being judged should be that completed in the year prior to this.

When research is conducted in an industrial or institutional setting, the finalist is required to include Intel ISEF Form 1C with the project documentation. Judges should review in detail the supervising scientist’s comments on Intel ISEF Form 1C when evaluating research conducted in an industrial or institutional setting. Be aware that the SRC approved gold seal embossed abstract is a tremendous source of information regarding the finalist’s project and research.

Look for evidence of laboratory, field or theoretical work, not just library research or gadgeteering.

Compare projects only with those competing at the Intel ISEF and not with projects seen in other competitions or scholastic events.

When submitting the score for each finalist’s project, you must enter only the cumulative score on the scan card for that finalist. As discussed in the previous chapter, the maximum score a finalist can obtain is 100.

Judges should keep in mind that the Science Fair is not only a competition, but also an educational and motivating experience for the finalists. The high point of the fair for the majority of finalists is their judging interviews.

As a general rule, judges represent professional authority to finalists. For this reason, judges should use an encouraging tone when asking questions, offering suggestions or giving constructive criticism. Judges should not criticize, treat lightly, or display boredom toward projects they personally consider unimportant. Always give credit to the finalist for completing a challenging task and/or for their success in previous competitions. Please be discreet when discussing winners or making critical comments in elevators, restaurants, or elsewhere, as finalists or adult escorts might overhear. Results are confidential until announced at the awards sessions. The Host Committee judging volunteers and the individual judges for both Grand Awards and Special Awards are responsible for ensuring that all items associated with judging, with the exception of the official results certification, are collected and destroyed at the conclusion of judging.

Judging rooms for 2023 in Carmichael Gym