Judging Criteria and Scoring

IMG_2794The following forms outline the criteria that teams will use when judging the projects.

We encourage all judges to carefully read the criteria and ask any clarification questions before arriving on Judging Day.

We also invite and encourage students, teachers, and parents to read the criteria!

Note: There are separate forms for projects that use the Scientific Process and Engineering Design, and for PreK-8 versus the HS level.
All forms are based on the criteria used at the ISEF competition level.


Pre-K and Kindergarten Criteria

1st and 2nd Grade Criteria

3rd-5th Grade Criteria

Middle School Criteria

High School Science Criteria

High School Engineering Criteria

Fillable Elementary and Middle School Judge Worksheet

Fillable High School Judge Worksheet


Scoring the Projects

Although you will be using the judging criteria to score projects, here are few helpful general thoughts about what makes a winning project.

  • When you deliberate on the projects, use a few simple criteria for your decisions. Then use the more-detailed criteria for those that you have narrowed down.
  • The quality of the student’s (or group of students’) work is what matters.
  • Team projects and individual projects are judged the same. It is the quality of the work that matters.
  • A less-sophisticated project that the student understands gets higher marks than a more sophisticated project that is not understood.
  • Access to sophisticated lab equipment and endorsements from professionals do not guarantee a high-quality project. (Ask yourself: Did the student really understand what was going on?)
  • It is acceptable if the student ended up disproving the objective or hypothesis of the experiment.
In general, high marks go to:
  • “Early starters” who took a longer period of time to collect data
  • Genuine scientific breakthroughs
  • Discovering knowledge not readily available to the student
  • Correctly interpreting and analyzing data
  • Repetitions to verify experimental results — and enough subjects to adequately test
  • Predicting and/or reducing experimental results with analytical techniques
  • Experiments applicable to the “real world” (for engineering projects)
  • Ability to clearly portray and explain the project and its results
In general, low marks go to:
  • Ignoring readily available information (e.g. not doing basic library research)
  • An apparatus (e.g. model) not useful for experimentation and data collection
  • Improperly using jargon, not understanding terminology, and/or not knowing how equipment or instrumentation works
  • Presenting results that were not derived from experimentation (e.g. literature search)

Closing Remark

Please do your best to make sure that all of the participants remember the science fair as a positive experience in their lives.



Every Child. Thinking Critically. Solving Problems.