1) Project Data Book
A project data book is your most treasured piece of work. Accurate and detailed notes make a logical and winning project. Good notes show consistency and thoroughness to the judges, and will help you when writing your research paper. Data tables are also helpful. They may be a little “messy” but be sure the quantitative data recorded is accurate and that units are included in the data tables. Make sure you date each entry.
2) Research Paper
A research paper should be prepared and available along with the project data book, including any necessary forms or relevant written materials. A research paper helps organize data as well as thoughts. A good paper includes the following sections.
a) Title Page and Table of Contents. The title page and table of contents allow the reader to follow the organization of the paper quickly.
b) Introduction. The introduction sets the scene for your report. The introduction includes the purpose, your hypothesis, problem or engineering goals, an explanation of what prompted your research, and what you hoped to achieve.
c) Materials and Methods. Describe, in detail, the methodology you applied to collect data, make observations, design apparatus, etc. Your research paper should be detailed enough so that anyone would be able to repeat the experiment from the information in your paper. Include detailed photographs or drawings of self-designed equipment. Only include this year’s work.
d) Results. The results include data and analysis. This should include statistics, graphs, pages with your raw collected data, etc.
e) Discussion. This is the essence of your paper. Compare your results with theoretical values, published data, commonly held beliefs, and/or expected results. Include a discussion of possible errors. How did the data vary between repeated observations of similar events? How were your results affected by uncontrolled events? What would you do differently if you repeated this project? What other experiments should be conducted?
f) Conclusions. Briefly summarize your results. State your findings in relationship of one variable with the other. Support those statements with empirical data (one average compared to the other average, for example). Be specific, do not generalize. Never introduce anything in the conclusion that has not already been discussed. Also mention practical applications.
g) You should always credit those who have assisted you, including individuals, businesses and educational or research institutions. However, acknowledgments listed on a project board are a violation of D & S Display rules and must be removed.
h) References/Bibliography. Your reference list should include any documentation that is not your own (books, journal articles, websites). See an appropriate reference in your discipline for format or refer to the Instructions to Authors of the appropriate publication.
• Three Common Reference Styles are:
- APA (American Psychological Association) Style:
This resource offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page.
- MLA (Modern Language Association) Format:
This resource offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/ footnotes, and the Works Cited page.
- Chicago Manual of Style:
The Chicago Manual of Style presents two basic documentation systems. The more concise author-date system has long been used by those in the physical, natural, and social sciences. In this system, sources are briefly cited in the text, usually between parentheses, by author’s last name and date of publication. The short citations are amplified in a list of references, where full bibliographic information is provided.
Helpful Hints For Display
After finishing research and experimentation, you need to write an abstract. The abstract needs to be a maximum of 250 words on one page. An abstract should include the a) purpose of the experiment, b) procedures, c) data, and conclusions. It also may include any possible research applications. Only minimal reference to previous work may be included. The abstract must focus on work performed in the current year; and should not include a) acknowledgments, or b) work or procedures performed by the mentor. See below for an example of an appropriately written abstract.
4) Visual Display (Display Board)
You want to attract and inform. Make it easy for interested spectators and judges to assess your study and the results you have reached. You want to “attract the eye” of the judges and convince them that the research is of sufficient quality to deserve closer scrutiny. Most displays or boards have three sections and are free standing. For the most part, the displays are placed on a table. Most BASEF & ISEF judges have a chance to look at the board before the interviews. Make the most of your space using clear and concise displays. You never get a second chance to make a first impression! Please be sure to reference the Display and Safety Rules in the International Rules and Guidelines; this information is also available on the Society for Science & the Public website at www.societyforscience.org
Current Year. Make sure the board reflects the current year’s work only. Prior year’s data books are permitted to display.
Good Title. our title is an extremely important attention-grabber. A good title should simply and accurately present your research and depict the nature of the project. The title should make the casual observer want to know more.
Take Photographs. Many projects involve elements that may not be safely exhibited at the Fair, but are an important part of the project. You might want to take photographs of important parts/phases of your experiment to add to your display. Photograph or other visual images of human test subjects must have signed consent forms. Credit must be given to all photographs.
Be Organized. Make sure your display follows a sequence, and is logically presented, and easy to read. Reach out to the “skim-reader”. A glance should permit anyone (particularly the judges) to locate quickly the title, abstract, experiments, results and conclusions. When you arrange your display, imagine that you are seeing it for the first time. Highlight your results through key graphs that show the relationships of the two variables tested. Use the graphs to give a “picture” of the data for your viewers. These graphs will provide an easier method of viewing the data rather than just seeing the recorded quantitative data.
Eye-Catching. Make your display stand out. Use neat, colorful headings, charts and graphs to present your project. Pay special attention to the labeling or graphs, charts, diagrams, photographs, and tables to ensure that each has a title and appropriate label describing what is being demonstrated. Anyone should be able to understand the visuals without further explanation.
Correctly presented and Well-Constructed. Be sure to adhere to the size limitations and safety rules when preparing your display. Display all required forms for your project. Make sure your display is sturdy, as it will need to remain intact for quite a while. You must also consider the weight of the project for shipping. It can be very costly to ship a heavy board. Keep your materials light, but strong.
Please Note: The judges are evaluating your research, not the display. So do not spend an excessive amount of time or money on the board. You are being judged on the science not the show! 5) Judging
Judges evaluate and focus on 1) what the student did in the current year; 2) how well a student followed the scientific, engineering, computer programming or mathematical methodologies; 3) the detail and accuracy of research as documented in the data book; and 4) whether experimental procedures were applied in the best possible way.
Judges look for well thought-out research. They look at how significant your project is in its field; how thorough you were, and how much of the experiment thought and design is your own work.
Judges evaluate and focus on:
1) what the student did in the current year;
2) how well a student followed the scientific, engineering, computer programming or mathematical methodologies;
3) the detail and accuracy of research as documented in the data book; and
4) whether experimental procedures were applied in the best possible way.
Judges look for well thought-out research.
They look at how significant your project is in its field; how thorough you were, and how much of the experiment thought and design is your own work.
Initially, judges obtain their information from your board, abstract and research paper to learn what the project is about, but it is the Interview that will be the final determination of your work. Judges applaud those students who can speak freely and confidently about their work. They are not interested in memorized speeches or presentationsthey simply want to talk to you about your research to see if you have a good grasp of your project from start to finish. It is important to start the interview off right. Greet the judges and introduce yourself. You want to make a good first impression. Appearance, good manners, appropriate attire, and enthusiasm for what you are doing will impress the judges.
Judges often ask questions to test your insight into your projects such as: “How did you come up with this idea? What was your role? What didn’t you do? “What further plans do you have to continue research?” and “What are the practical applications of your project?” Remember that the judges need to know if you understand the basic principles of science behind your project or topic area. They want to determine if you have correctly measured and analyzed the data.
They want to know if you can determine possible sources of error in your project and how you might apply your findings to the “actual” world. Finally, the judges seek to encourage you in your scientific efforts and your future goals/career in science. Relax, smile and enjoy your time to learn from them and accept their accolades for your fine work.
BASEF & ISEF Judging Criteria (points):
|Scientific Thought & Engineering Goals