The first phase of judging at the Fair is the project pre-screening, which starts shortly after the Entry Deadline, and determines which projects will advance to the exhibition-phase. All entries are screened based on the following criteria:
This evaluation is based on the information in the TNJSF Research Plan Form (or submitted through FAVR), Either way, this information must be submitted by the entry deadline for a project to be considered. Make sure that the research plan adequately states the planned work. Focus on detailing the plan of work, and not on historical background information about a field. Be sure to clearly define the work that you/your team plan(s) to do versus work being done by others (teacher/mentor/others in the lab). Form 1C or Form 1CC, whichever is applicable, must be submitted by the entry deadline for a project to be considered in the Phase I Judging.
The Phase I Judging starts shortly after the entry deadline and takes about 2 weeks to complete. The results of the screening process are shown on the TNJSF website when they are available, and an email is sent to each student and advisor when the results are finalized.
If a project is not chosen to be exhibited at the Fair, it will still be considered an entry in the Fair, contingent upon SRC approval and Abstract submission. Given final approval, projects excluded from the exhibition phase of the Fair will still be included in the Project List and Project Abstracts on the website. Hence, you can still list your science fair project on college applications, etc. Please note that abstract submission is required for ALL projects, not just those chosen to exhibit.
Category judging takes place on Saturday afternoon, where each category is assigned a group of judges with a Captain. Judging of projects takes place over a 2 1/2 hour time period. During this time, judges will meet with students at their project displays and evaluate their work. Each project is judged by a minimum of 3 judges, with only one judge interviewing a student at any given time (i.e. no judging in groups). At the end of the judging period, the judges reconvene in the Judges’ Room to discuss the projects and determine which projects will be awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places.
Students are free to leave after completion of the judging interviews. An announcement will be made in the exhibit area to notify the students and judges.
The category judging follows a common standard for all categories based on the TNJSF judging criteria. To the extent feasible, projects are not awarded based on the relative quality within a specific category. Instead, they are judged to an absolute standard to maintain consistency in category placement across all categories. As a result, a category may include two projects that can receive the same placement (i.e. two projects can be awarded first place). Similarly, it is not necessary that every category will award a first, second and third place. For example, at the discretion of the judging committee, no first place may be awarded based on the quality of projects in that category.
Special awards judging takes place on Sunday morning, where each special award is assigned a group of judges with a Captain. Judging of projects takes place over a 2 1/2 hour time period. During this time, judges will meet with students at their project displays and evaluate their work. At least 2 judges on the award team should see each project under consideration. Special awards judges are allowed to judge in groups of up to 3 judges, if desired. At the end of the judging period, students may leave for lunch, and the judges reconvene in the Judges’ Room to discuss the projects and determine which projects will be awarded.
The types of special awards range from specific science areas, like the Geoscience Award, to more general awards such as the Innovation Award. Hence, projects may be visited by a varying number of judges depending on their eligibility for the different awards. So judges are allowed to conduct interviews in groups of up to 3 judges.
The ISEF Grand Prize awards are treated as a special award at the TNJSF, and they are judged by a panel consisting of the Captains of the individual category judging teams from Saturday. This panel selects the winners of the ISEF Grand Prize - an all-expense paid trip to compete at the annual Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in mid-May.
This judging occurs in two stages:
After the finalist judging is complete, the ISEF Grand Prize winners are chosen, with at least one winner from the junior division (grades 9 and 10). One team project can be awarded an ISEF Grand Prize, at the discretion of the ISEF Panel.