Judges

MAS needs both qualified paper judges and general volunteers to make this high school paper competition run. Please consider helping students pursue their interests in science and engineering by volunteering!

JUDGES:  JSHS Judges evaluate student presentations and provide feedback to students on their research and presentation skills. Top students advance to the callback round, where five students are awarded trips to compete in the National JSHS. Judging provides an excellent opportunity for networking and developing evaluation skills. Please review judging qualifications below before registering as a judge. Judges must not be teachers, mentors, or relatives of students competing and must disclose any potential conflicts of interest.

GENERAL VOLUNTEERS:  Volunteers help out in a variety of areas at the competition, including office help, data entering, and participant check-in. See complete list of tasks below. Most shifts require standing and walking but none require heavy lifting. No experience is necessary (unless indicated). Volunteers only need to be friendly and comfortable working in a fairly fast-paced environment. Parents, relatives, and teachers of students competing and K-12 students may not volunteer in Restricted Areas due to potential conflicts of interest.

REGISTER AS A JSHS JUDGE OR GENERAL VOLUNTEER NOW

Thank you for registering. When you click the Register Now button you will be taken to the MN Academy of Science Portal Login page.Follow the directions on the page
to login to your account or create an account if this is your first time on the page. 
Once you Login, you will be taken to your User Profile page. Look on the lower right for the Event Registration section and click the Click Here to Register link.

 Choose Science Fair/JSHS on the next page and continue with registration. 

Register Now

Qualifications for Judges

To judge high school papers, we ask that you have one or more of the following:

6+ years of experience in your field

a doctorate in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field

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 papers, you must have one of the following:

2+ years of experience in your field (This includes upper-division undergraduate students with 2+ years of undergraduate research experience and advanced coursework)

a Bachelors degree in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field

FAQs for Judges


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 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…

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?  IEach 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.

General Volunteer Assignments


Student/Adult Registration/Check-In:  Hand out name badges and registration bags and answer questions.

Judge Registration / Check-In (restricted):  Hand out judge badges and judge packets and answer questions.

Presentation Room Moderating:  Introduce student presenters, keep time for student presenters, stop the presentation when time runs out, and announce that time is up for judge questions. Must be comfortable speaking in front of a small audience and calling time.

Hall Monitoring:  Monitor outside of presentation rooms to ensure that people are quiet in the halls during paper presentations. Must feel comfortable telling people to keep quiet during the presentations.

Late afternoon, or late evening Data Entry [Adult Volunteer Restricted Area]:  Enter student scores to the database. Must have close attention to detail, good computer skills, and be able to enter numerical data quickly and accurately.