How to Impress BASEF Judges
Worried about talking to a judge?
Well, don’t be. Remember, judges come back year after year because they truly enjoy talking to you.
But if you’re still a little nervous check out these tips from our Judge in Chief and 3 previous BASEF winners.
1. Be Original (Think outside the box)
Judges are looking for inventions and innovations. Try to come up with an original idea for your project. Find a new way to test something or a fresh application for a product or a novel way to process data. Look at something old in a new way. For example, rather than compare different types of coffee filters, you could compare different household materials (paper towels, napkins, toilet paper) for use as a coffee filter if you ever run out.
2. Grab their full attention!
Have a well-defined, easy-to-understand goal or objective. Make sure the title of your project is related to your purpose. Make it crystal clear what you are doing and why.
3. Understand Your Science Fair Project
It’s not enough to have an easy-to-understand poster or presentation. Judges will ask you questions about your project, in part to see if you understand what you have done. This weeds out people who had their parents, friends, or teachers do their project for them. You need to understand what you did, why you did it, and what conclusions you could make based on your results.
4. Put In Time & Effort
Judges reward effort. You can get marks on a project that only took you an hour to do, but you should realize investing time and energy in your project will give you an edge over other good projects. A project which requires you to collect data over time will do better than a project you whipped out on a weekend. Spending time on your project demonstrates your interest in it, plus taking the time to think about it usually means you end up with a better understanding of how science works.
5. Consider Applications
Find a real-world application for your project. Pure research is commendable, but there is almost always a potential use for the knowledge.
6. Have Prior Knowledge
Understand the background material related to your project. This can be through interviews, library or internet research, or any other method that allows you to learn more about the subject. Judges want you to learn from your project, so go looking for facts and studies relating to your idea.
7. Make Sure It Wasn’t a Fluke
Repeat your experiment to verify the consistency of your results. In some cases, this can take the form of multiple trials.
8. Understand Your Data
Use analytical methods to process your data (such as statistical analysis).
9. The Importance of Mistakes
Don’t hide your mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process. Some would say the most important part. So think about what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what you might do in the future if you decide to do a similar project.
Don’t miss Part 2
This post, Part 1, covered the high-level concepts. Be original. Understand your project. Think about potential applications. Etc. In Part 2 we’ll get more specific. Topics include “Some questions judges may ask during an interview ” and “What are judges looking for?”