General Lab Information

Science Fair Judging Criteria

The primary purpose of a science fair project is to encourage students to think critically and the investigate. Through following the scientific method or engineering design process, students learn how to learn.

Scientific Method/Engineering Design Process

The scientific method is a pattern of inquiry that forms a structure for advancing scientific understanding. It involves identifying a problem, forming a hypothesis, designing and constructing an experiment, collecting data, analyzing the results, and forming a conclusion. Scientists, using this approach, have answered questions ranging from the simplest to the most complex.

The engineering design process is an iterative process that challenges students to come up with a solution to a problem. It involves identifying the need or problem, researching, brainstorming possible solutions, choosing a solution, designing the solution, building a prototype, testing and evaluation, and sharing the solution.

Overview of Updated Rubric

Judges' Rubric

All projects will be judged on how well they follow the scientific method or engineering process using the rubric as shown in the table below. The Judges' Rubric is also available and can be viewed as a PDF file - English | Spanish.

Criteria 4 3 2 1
Originality of Question Original idea going beyond a traditional or existing idea. Different perspective on a traditional idea. Expanding an existing idea. No originality.
Hypothesis/
Define the Problem
Thoroughly developed with reasoning. Ex. “I think…because…” or a clearly defined problem to be solved or question to be answered. Sufficiently developed. Partially developed. Major flaws.
Procedures/
Engineering Design Solutions
Easy to follow sequence of the Scientific Method or Engineering Design Process. Dated sequence of entire process captured by the student in a log or journal. This includes all observations, data collection, and changes to project. Easy to follow sequence of the Scientific Method or Engineering Design Process. Dated sequence of entire process captured by the student in a log or journal with moderate detail. Somewhat difficult to follow because of lapses in the sequence of the Scientific Method or Engineering Design Process. Minimal documentation included in a log or journal. Difficult to follow; no sequence of the Scientific Method or Engineering Design Process. No data collection shown.
Investigation Trials Experiment was performed 3 or more times and/or sample size was exceptional or engineering design was tested 3 or more times. Experiment was performed 2 times and/or sample size was adequate or engineering design was tested 2 times. Experiment was performed 1 time and/or sample size was minimal or engineering design was tested 1 time. Experiment was performed incompletely.
Analysis Data is clearly presented in the form of a table, chart, or other graphic organizer and directly relates to the hypothesis/question/
problem.
Data is reasonably presented and shows good relationship to hypothesis/questions/
problem.
Data is minimally presented and shows some relationship to hypothesis/question/
problem.
Data is not presented and no relationship to hypothesis/question/
problem is evident.
Evaluation/
Conclusion/
Solution
A logical conclusion has been drawn based on the data collected or the design(s) tested. The conclusion or design answers the hypothesis/question/
problem and/or raises a new hypothesis/question/
problem. Has real world application.
A logical conclusion has been drawn based on the data collected or the design(s) tested. A fairly reasonable conclusion has been drawn based on the data collected or the design(s) tested. The conclusion drawn or solution designed is not shown to relate to the data collected.
Presentation
(Overall Impression)
       

* Scientific Method: question, hypothesis, investigating/testing, analysis and evaluation/conclusion.

** Engineering Design Process: Identify a need or problem, research/brainstorm possible solutions, choose solution(s), design solution(s), test and evaluate.