Pop QuizScience

Pop Quiz: Science Fair!

This weekend, I am doing my very first stint as a science fair judge. I LOVE science fairs, and even entered projects into my school-wide fairs long before it was required for my age group. Plants… I tested the effect of sunlight on plants. Okay, that’s a bit droll, but give me a break, I was seven years old! And I did it all by myself. Much later I won the school-wide fair and went on to regionals with a whole lot of icky microbes grown from the mouths of my family members. (There was no correlation of mouth fauna to age, if you are curious.) Much later, I looked at sunspots. Another year, a friend and I calculated the light pollution of Staten Island. (It’s A LOT.) Nevertheless, I could hardly compete with those kids whose schools had money for “real” scientific research equipment.

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Image CC RichardBowen on Flickr

So now I’m on the other side of it, I get to help judge “Best of Fair.” It’s a broad category, pretty much defined however we, the judges, decide to do so. Is it original? Is it rigorous? Is it just awesome? I’m still thinking how to make an objective judgement based on such criteria.

What do you look for in a science fair project? As a teacher? As a judge? As a parent? How about as a student? What is your favorite project that you have done or seen done in a science fair? 

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Nicole

Nicole

Nicole is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at a small liberal arts college. Her home on the internet can be found at One Astronomer's Noise.

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