Last week I had the pleasure of judging at the Eleanor Roosevelt High School science fair. The pleasure was only added to by the breakfast, snacks, and beverages provided by the ERHS PTSA. Program organized by Jennifer Massagli
The main fun, as always, was talking to the students. But I'll also make some comments here for students who are thinking about next year's science fair projects. One part of the fun (for judges) being to talk to the students, I'll advise that students act like they're interested in their projects. "Here is something I slapped together because the school made me." even if true, is just not the way to your judge's heart. I also make this comment to graduate students and scientists about their presentations. Many people don't act interested in their own work. Trust me, if you aren't interested, we won't be either.
Fun parts of the talk include finding out what prompted the student to do their project and where they might take it in the future. Also an important part of a professional presentation. One student I spoke with was looking at the output of solar cells, how they depended on light sources and filters. This is sufficient reason for the science fair project, and he explored that question ok. But it became much more interesting to me when I discovered that he was using the solar cells as proxies for plant photosynthesis. Plants do rely on the sun, as do solar cells, and there are degrees to which you can indeed use solar cells to map out plant responses.
A different line of interest for me is to see what the students think of to investigate, and how. Many different sorts of things investigation, and many ingenious ideas on how to get the measurements. Both are good areas to use and show your creativity, which is one of the areas on the official scoresheet.
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