FAQs for Judges

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO JUDGE?
WILL THERE BE TRAINING?
WHAT ARE THE STUDENTS’ PROJECTS LIKE?
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
WILL FOOD BE PROVIDED?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GRAND AWARDS AND SPECIAL AWARDS?
WHAT IS THE TIME COMMITMENT?
WHICH COMPETITIONS ARE HAPPENING WHICH DAY?
HOW DO THE JUDGE TEAMS WORK?
WHEN WILL I KNOW WHICH CATEGORY I AM JUDGING?
HOW DO I FIND OUT WHAT PROJECTS I AM JUDGING?
WHAT ARE “ON CALL” JUDGES?
WHAT IS THE JUDGING PROCESS?
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO INTERVIEW EACH STUDENT?
HOW ARE THE PROJECTS SCORED?
I CAN NO LONGER MAKE IT TO THE COMPETITIONS. IS THERE A DIFFERENT WAY I CAN HELP WITH JUDGING?
WHO SHOULD I CONTACT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?


WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO JUDGE?
To judge high school projects and paper, we ask that you have 6+ years of experience in your field, or you must have a doctorate in a science, technology, engineering, or math field or an M.D., D.O., D.V.M., Pharm.D., Ph.D., or Ed.D. This includes graduate students in the final year of their program.

To judge middle school projects and papers, you must have 2+ years of experience in your field. This includes upper-division undergraduate students with 2+ years of undergraduate research experience and advanced coursework, OR a Bachelors degree in a science, technology, engineering, or math field.

WILL THERE BE TRAINING?
There will be a 30 minute judge training and orientation session the morning of the competition lead by one of your fellow judges. They will go over how the judging process works, give some examples, explain the scoresheets, and answer any questions you might have.

WHAT ARE THE STUDENTS’ PROJECTS LIKE?
You’ll be talking with some of the best and brightest students in Minnesota at the competitions. From more than 2500 students who compete in the Regional Science Fairs, only 500 advance to State. Because this is a diverse group of students in grades 6-12, projects range from medical research conducted under university lab supervision to at-home studies of pets and family members.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
We ask that judges dress business casual, but we want you to be comfortable when you’re on your feet so we suggest wearing comfortable shoes. Some judges will wear their company polo or work shirt, others will wear business casual or professional dress. Students will be dressed anywhere from casual to business professional.

WILL FOOD BE PROVIDED?
Yes. For project judging, we will provide breakfast and lunch. For the paper competitions, there will likely be snacks and coffee/tea, but no full meals since the paper judging only lasts about three hours in the afternoon.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GRAND AWARDS AND SPECIAL AWARDS?
Special Awards are sponsored by a company or organization and are judged by representatives from that organization. Grand Awards are overall awards for projects across categories. The majority of judges are Grand Awards judges. If your company has asked you to judge their award, you are a Special Awards judge, but everyone else is Grand Awards.

WHAT IS THE TIME COMMITMENT?
Because of how the scoring process works, judges do need to be present for the full shift at whichever competition(s) they are judging. If you can’t make it for the full shift, you can sign up as a General Volunteer and help out with other aspects of the competition, like entering the scores, helping students register, etc…

SAT MARCH 25, 2017 - Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (high school oral presentations)
7:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

SAT March 25, 2017 Middle School Papers Competition (middle school oral presentations)
3:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

SAT March 25, 2017 Middle School Papers Competition (High School Papers Callback)
6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

SUN MARCH 26, 2017
 State Science & Engineering Fair (middle and high school projects)
7:00 am - 4:30 pm

HOW DO THE JUDGE TEAMS WORK?
Judge teams are groups of 4-6 judges who have overlapping areas of expertise. Everyone on your judge team will be assigned to interview the same set of students (or, in the case of JSHS, view the same oral presentations). Judge teams are assigned by the Judge Coordinator in mid-March based on the expertise of all the registered judges.

WHEN WILL I KNOW WHICH CATEGORY I AM JUDGING?
Your Judge Team will include 1-3 different categories. For example, there might be a team that has both Behavioral & Social Science projects and Medicine & Health Science projects if students submit projects that are relevant to both fields. When putting together the Judge Teams, we will try our best to get you judging projects in your area of expertise, but you might be shifted to one of the other categories you are comfortable judging. In a few cases, we have to move judges to completely different categories where we don’t have enough experts.

HOW DO I FIND OUT WHAT PROJECTS I AM JUDGING?
When you check-in the day of the competition, you will receive a packet that includes a personalized schedule of which students you will talk with and when. Everyone on your Judge Team will talk with the same students, but at different times.

WHAT ARE “ON CALL” JUDGES?
“On Call” judges are there to take over for judges who don’t show up the day of the competition. Anyone who registers after Judge Team assignments are set will be On Call. This means that when they show up, we won’t know yet what students they are judging, but we’ll get them an assignment when we know which Judge Teams are missing judges.

WHAT IS THE JUDGING PROCESS?
Judges talk with students about their research projects, ask questions to learn more about the topic and the work the student did, and evaluate the students’ projects. In addition to scoring the projects, judges also provide written feedback that is given to students anonymously after the competition is over.

The judging process is the most exciting part of the Science Fair and JSHS experience for many students. By talking with you, the students not only receive feedback on their projects and ideas for future research, they also get to interact with professionals in fields they aspire to enter. Don’t forget you’re a role model for these students!

Download Sample Interview Questions (PDF)

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO INTERVIEW EACH STUDENT?
In 2014, we switched to a new judging schedule which we will carry over for 2016. Each judge is given 15 minutes to talk with a student, followed by 10 minutes of break time after each interview. This gives you time to score the project before moving on to the next student and to fill out thoughtful written feedback for the students. You could also use this time to sit down or take a short break. During the 10 minute breaks, the Special Awards judges can talk with students.

HOW ARE THE PROJECTS SCORED?
Judges evaluate students’ projects on their contribution to their field of study, their design and methods, their study execution, their creativity and problem solving, and their presentation skills. Detailed scoresheets and comment sheets for JSHS are below in PDF format.

JSHS Scoresheet

JSHS Comment Sheet

I CAN NO LONGER MAKE IT TO THE COMPETITIONS. IS THERE A DIFFERENT WAY I CAN HELP WITH JUDGING?
Even if you can’t make it the day of the competition, we would love to have your help with judging some of the national organization awards (called SSP Awards). These SSP awards are given by national organizations (e.g. The American Psychological Association) who can’t send their own judges to the competition. Because the organizations don’t have representatives, the winners of these awards are chosen based on abstracts. If you are interested in judging some of the SSP awards based on abstracts, please contact us and we will figure out which SSP award you could judge.

WHO SHOULD I CONTACT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?
If you have any questions, please use contact@mnmas.org.