Winning tips: are you ready to present your science project?
Your science project is practically finished. You've picked a topic, done your research, planned and executed your experiment, and written your research paper. The battle's almost over, right? Wrong! Whether you're competing in a science fair or displaying your project for a "Parents' Science Night" presentation plays an important role in making (or breaking) the grade.
For advice on how to present your project, Science World interviewed "experts": Jenny Blickensderfer and Gretchen Vogt, students who recently received superior rankings for their projects in the Ohio State Academy of Science's State Science Day Fair; Jack Johnson, science-fair judge in Arizona; Dan Vogt, science-fair judge in Ohio; and Teresa Bettac, a science teacher and science-fair coordinator at Willis Middle School in Delaware, Ohio.
SW: In a science fair, judges spend about 10 minutes to check out student displays. What's the best way to catch their eye?
Jack: Make the display as legible as possible. Cut the wordy part to a minimum and use easy-to-read graphics.
Dan: Clear headings like "Results" and "Conclusions" make the display easy to follow.
Teresa: Support your display with photos, graphs, and data.
Gretchen: To make the board eye-catching and clear, I used blue borders and black-on-white type.
SW: The oral presentation is just as important as the display. How can you prepare to talk with the judges?
Gretchen: I practice in front of my dog, the mirror, my friends, and anybody else willing to listen! At the fair, I pretended I was talking to my parents to help me stay calm.
Jenny: Don't read note cards word-for-word. Reading means you have less eye contact with the judges, and an interruption can easily rattle you. Just touch on the main ideas to make your speech more interesting. Also, be loud, clear, and confident.
Dan: Be ready to communicate an understanding of your project.
SW: What if a judge asks you a question you can't answer?
Teresa: We give our students a stock phrase when they don't know the answer to a judge's questions: "My research didn't give me that information, but I do know..."
Gretchen: When that happens, stop and think of an answer.
Jack: Be an expert on the subject matter. Many of the judges are science professionals who really know their stuff.
SW: Any last-minute advice?
Jenny: Be prepared to wait.
Teresa: Show a personal interest--be animated, excited, and knowledgeable.
Gretchen: Think of it as a performance.
Jack: Have fun!
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|Date:||Sep 21, 1998|
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