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  • Emma Delgado

What's the best way to talk to Science Fair judges?

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Science Fair Judges Talking to Students

While presentation skills might not be the skill that comes to mind needed for a science career, interactions with judges are detrimental in regards to research competitions. Competing and sharing your research can be a stressful process, but there are some tips and tricks to use to make the best use of your judging time:

Prepare three versions of a speech about your research: a two minute speech, a five minute speech, and a ten minute speech. Depending on the judge, they could ask for a detailed run-down of your project, or a brief recap of the project in order to have more time for questions. This way, you can personalize your research speech to your judges preference and have more time to interact with them.

Show passion and be enthusiastic about your work. Judges love when they can see passion and thought put into projects. From my personal experience, my passion for my project has something that has always been mentioned in judges feedback. Find a topic you can relate to and feel passionate about and create a project from there.

Additionally, make sure to use enthusiasm in all your judging, in the morning to wake up judges, in the afternoon to be different in the monotonous drone of judging, and near the end where judges are feeling tired.

Be open to feedback. Judges will often give advice on your project, use that feedback to grow. Apply constructive criticism as you see fit and remember the feedback for the next judging session. Judges like when you are receptive to feedback, so encourage them to give constructive criticism and ask questions so they can really delve into the depth of your project. If you’re unsure of an answer, mention how you’re not aware of the answer but will look into it later.

Interact with your judges respectfully. While questioning can be quite stressful, being able to show your passion or admiration for judges in your scientific field can help make the judges more comfortable around you. Trying a joke or small talk about shared interests can also help make connections. If judges comment a personal bit of information, make a personal connection to that information to build that connection.

Have something noticeable about yourself. While judges are meeting in caucus to determine the winners, make sure you stand out to judges by having a distinct feature, whether it be “the girl with the big purple board,” “the boy who shocked thousands of flies,” or “the student whose grandparents both had Alzheimer’s.” Try to have a trademark, whether it be a bright pink suit or another memorable trait to stay on the top of the judges mind, especially your first few judges.

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