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Through the judges' eyes.

JOSH: What, in your expert opinions, makes a really good project?

RITA: Creativity. New ideas. Stay away from exploding volcanoes, for instance. They've been done too many times before. If you take the time to think up a really unique project, you'll probably get high marks.

KAREN: Right. But it's not enough just to have a cool idea. Once I judged a project on dreams. It was a great topic, but the girl hadn't turned it into an experiment. Essentially, it was just a report on research other scientists had done. That didn't cut it. Whatever your topic, your project should be a real experiment that examines the effect of one variable on another.

J: Tell me about the part where students explain their projects out loud--presentation. What's most important about this part?

K: Clarity is crucial. Make sure you tell us what you did as simply and clearly as possible. If you use a lot of technical terms, you might bore the judges or worse, confuse them.

R: And you can get all tripped up by using big words. So, for example, you might want to say "aspirin," instead of "salicylic acid." You can include the technical name in your title and written report.

J: What happens when the student's talk is done?

K: The judges get to ask some questions. I usually ask about the findings--how you got them, whether or not they support your hypothesis....

R: I like to ask about how you did your research--your methods--and what kind of research you could do to continue your project. Where are you taking your ideas next?

J: Yikes!

K: It's not as scary as it sounds. I mean, we're not trying to stump you, or anything like that. We just want to help you give a complete picture of your work.

R: And if you had any problems or errors, it's okay to tell us about them. In fact, I'd be really impressed if you suggested ways to improve your experiment.

J: With all this info covered in the talk and questions, does the display board even matter?

R: Of course. It's really important. I like to take a close look at data tables and graphs. So don't clutter up your display with lots of cutesy artwork.

K: Everything on it--every chart, graph, and line of writing--should be there for one purpose: to explain clearly what your project is about.

R: And neatness counts.

J: Any other tips?

K: Remember, we can only judge a project on what's there. You have to show or tell us everything you want us to know.

R: You'll do a good job if you're really into your project. So select a topic that interests you. If you're enthusiastic, you'll have more fun too.
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Title Annotation:entering science fairs
Author:Plaut, Josh
Publication:Science World
Date:Nov 20, 1992
Words:461
Next Article:Speak up!
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