Fraser Valley Regional Science Fair

Judging FAQ

I have to take time off work; what will I get out of this?

You will:

  • Exchange and share your knowledge with the young people
  • See the excitement and hard work that students bring to their projects
  • Provide advice on how they may get more out of their work in science
  • Encourage them in doing science and in thinking and working scientifically
  • Learn new thingsNetwork with your colleagues
  • Add the experience to your resume
  • Derive personal satisfaction from giving something back to your community by volunteering your time

How much time will I need?

Divisional Judging: Thursday afternoon, 1:00 - 3:30 pm. If possible, you can arrive an hour or two ahead of time, to pick up your package and preview the projects before the students arrive.

Special Awards Judging: Thursday afternoon, 3:30 – 5:00 pm. If possible, you can arrive early to pick up your package and preview the projects before the students arrive.

How do I budget my time for the list of projects that I am given?

Plan on chatting with each student for 5 - 10 minutes. If you have previewed the projects ahead of time, this will be enough. You will need another 5 minutes away from the student, to write up your thoughts or to score the project, if you are a divisional judge.

Once you have completed all of your interviews, you need about 10 minutes to meet with your partner or team to make a short list. Leave time to return to projects to clarify questions and make a final decision. Make good use of your time by studying the map provided; visit the projects which are closest together first, so that you are not wandering back and forth.

I have never judged before; I don’t know if I am qualified.

Being a good listener, being curious about scientific topics, and bringing students’ knowledge out in conversation are more important than being a top-level expert in your field. We hope you can help us make this a positive and enjoyable experience for these young people.

Students consistently report that the best part of their science fair experience is their conversations with knowledgeable scientists who treat their work with respect.

I am not sure of my schedule; what is the latest day that I can register to be a judge?

Judges’ registration closes on March 30, giving us time to place you on a specific judging team in your primary area of interest and expertise.

I won’t know for sure until a day or two before the Science Fair if I’ll be available to judge. Can I still help?

Register by March 30, so that we have your information. However, be sure to state that you will be a “drop-in” judge if you are able to get time off, and that you will be willing to help in any area of interest as needed.

I have friends who are interested in judging. Where can they get information and, if qualified, register?

First, suggest that they look at the website. If they are qualified and would still like to judge, they can register online.

Can I do anything ahead of time to prepare for judging?

First, read the sections on this website, especially the FAQs. We also encourage you to visit the projects on Thursday morning; this will give you uninterrupted time, before the students arrive, to read their projects carefully and to think about what you would like to ask them.

What do I need to bring with me?

A smile, lots of patience, eyeglasses, and a favourite pen or pencil.

What should I wear?

Suit and tie are not necessary; business casual is fine. You will be given a nametag when you sign in at the judges’ table.

Where do I park?

Take the second entrance into the UFV campus (going south on McKenzie Rd from King Rd), and park in the lot closest to the Envisions Athletics Centre (Lot 10). Obtain a parking pass from the registration table.

Where and when do I pick up my list of projects?

The judges’ table is in the foyer of the Envision Athletic Centre at UFV.

I work with adults and I am nervous about talking to kids; how can I start?

Introduce yourself, and smile; they are surely more nervous than you are! (“What a good looking backboard. That must have taken you a lot of time to do.”)

Tell them why you are interested in their topic. (“I had a horse when I was your age.” “I have always wondered why . . . “)

Start with warm-up questions (“Why did you chose this topic?”). By then, you will both have relaxed, and you will very much enjoy the rest of your conversation – guaranteed!

For more details, please refer to “Judging Process” on this website.

What should I do if I go to a table and the student is not there?

Ask the neighbours: “Do you know where Julia is? Is she here?” If not, write the time on your list of projects, and add “student not here”. Ask the neighbours to tell Julia that you missed her, but will be back later (some students might have to come from a distance).

Where do I meet my judging team?

It is easy if you arrive at the start time. We suggest that teams meet initially in the foyer, and determine the next meeting time and place.

If I arrive a bit late for divisional judging, how will I recognise my judging team members? How will we know when and where to meet?

If at all possible, arrive early. There are so many students, judges, and parents milling around during judging that it is almost impossible to catch up with another judge.

If you are early, you can unhurriedly pick up your judging package, preview your projects, and be back at the judges’ table at the start time, to meet your team and decide together when and where to meet after you have completed your individual interviews. If you do arrive late, you will have to keep checking back at the judges’ table to see if you can locate your team members.

How do other judges know that I have interviewed a student?

Each backboard has a corner tag listing the names and grade level of the student(s). Please initial the corner tag. This will also confirm for the students (and anxious parents) that judging has occurred.


What should I do if all the projects are great? Or mediocre?

You will be judging with a team, so the responsibility of deciding will be shared. Together, you need to find the Best-of-the-Best (or the Best-of-the-Mediocre). This is not always easy. Passionate discussions among judges often result, and that is invigorating! If you can’t come to a decision, speak with the chief judge.

We DO like to distribute all awards every year; keep in mind that the science fair is not only a competition, but also a motivating experience for students to continue their interest in science. Receiving a ribbon or special award can be a turning point for a student, so give the award to the best of this year’s projects.

How do I score the projects?

Divisional judges are given score sheets; see the sample on this website: “”.

Last year I judged with a partner, but our numerical ratings were really different. Is that fair?

Your scores and totals are for your use only, to help you rank the projects. Don’t be concerned if you are marking too hard or too soft, compared with the other judges. You will compare your “short-lists” based on your personal relative rankings, and come to a good-better-best decision together.

How many of the projects on my list will get Gold? Silver? Bronze?

Your list has only a portion of the projects; please refer to the information on this website under “The Judging Process”. You will discuss your favourites with the other teams of judges in your division. Traditionally, about 10% of the projects in a division receive Gold, 20% Silver, and 30% Bronze. If you and your team wish to deviate from that guideline, please speak with the chief judge.

How much time should I spend looking at the binders / written reports?

Binders and written reports are indicative of the depth of research undertaken by the students. They often contain rough notes made during the research, and printouts of background research. They can give you ideas for questions to ask the students. In divisional judging, their quality counts for up to 14% of the total mark. If no binder or written report is provided, that is a serious problem.

What should I do if the binder contents are sparse or missing?

First, ask the student where the binder is. Sometimes it has been left at home, and the student is really distressed about that! Which means you’d better reassure him/her. If the response is “What binder?” then probe the depth of the student’s preparation. Divisional marking will suffer.


What should I do if I am judging a project for a certain special award, and the project has nothing to do with that award’s criteria?

Honour the student’s work with a good-quality interview. Sometimes teachers or parents don’t read the criteria carefully when students register; that student will not be chosen for the special award, but should feel satisfied with your conversation.


Where can I go if I’d like to confer with a more experienced judge?

The Chief Judge can be found at the judges’ table who is there to support you!

Again, we thank you for your interest in making the Fraser Valley Regional Science Fair an extraordinary experience for our children!

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