Judging Criteria

Judging Criteria

The students will be given a score in five main areas. The marking guidelines for the those areas are as follows.

1. Scientific Processes

  • Is there a clear aim and hypothesis?
    • The aim should say exactly what the student was trying to do, examples of aims include:
      • To investigate whether plants need salt to grow.
      • To determine the optimal salt level for plant growth.
      • To test whether plants can tolerate high levels of salt.
      • To find out if salty water is better for plant growth than fresh water.
      • To compare growth in plants given different levels of salt.
    • The hypothesis is a simple statement that can be tested, examples of hypotheses include:
      • Plants grow better with low salt levels than high salt levels.
      • The salt level in water does not affect plant growth.
    • Students should be able to explain what a hypothesis is and to be able to tell you both their aim and their hypothesis.
  • Is there evidence of background research?
    • Students should be able to tell you what they have found out about their topic i.e., what was already known about it before they started their research.
  • Did the experiment test what it was supposed to? i.e., was the method based on the Aim as stated?
    • The method that was followed should relate directly to the aim of the experiment.
  • Have there been repetitions of the experiment? i.e., was the sample size sufficient?
    • The sample size should be at least 3, and preferably much more. The sample size is the number of “things” for each treatment. So, if the effects of different salt levels are being tested, and there are 5 plants at each of 3 salt levels, then the sample size is 5, i.e., the number per treatment. A sample size of one is no good; if only one plant was tested it could have been a dud plant to start with. Having a reasonable sample size means that results can be averaged which gives a more reliable result.
      Students should be able to tell you their sample size, and why it’s important to have a reasonable sample size.
  • Is there sufficient data to support the conclusion?
  • Have variables been identified?
    • The Variables are the things that can change in an experiment, there are three kinds:
      1. The independent variable is the factor being tested. In our example with the plants, it would be the salt level. There should only be ONE independent variable.
      2. The dependent variable is the factor that changes as a result of the Independent variable changing. It is the thing that is measured. In this case, it would be the growth of the plant.
      3. The controlled variables are the things that they kept the same in the experiment so that only the independent variable is tested, in order to make it a fair test. In our example, the controlled variables would be the type of plant, type of soil, amount of water, amount of sunlight, amount of fertilizer etc.
    • Students should be able to explain what independent and dependent variables are, and identify them in their own research.
    • Students should also be able to explain the variables they controlled and how they controlled them.
  • Was it a fair test? i.e is there only one independent variable? Are all other variables controlled?
    • Students may not know what the term “fair test” means but they should know that it won’t be a fair test if they have changed more than one factor.
  • Have problems associated with the experiment been discussed and solutions suggested?
    • Students should be able to tell you about any problems that they had, how they dealt with them, and maybe what they would do next time.
  • Are ideas for future research given?
    • Students may be able to suggest what they would do if they continued with this research.
  • Are references and acknowledgements given?
    • There should be some:
      (i) references listed showing where they got their background information, and
      (ii) acknowledgements of the help given to them by others.

2. Student Explanation

  • Is the student able to discuss and explain their project?
  • Can they explain things without reading from the board?
  • Are the students able to answer your questions?

3. Written Communication

  • Has the student expressed their ideas well in the written form?
  • Is the layout easy to read and to follow?
  • Are there spelling and grammatical errors?

4. Project Creativity

  • How creative is the student's project idea?
  • Has the student developed their project in an original and creative way?

5. Project Presentation

  • Has the project been presented in an appealing way?
  • Does the presentation make you want to know more about the project?

PDF:   Sample Score Sheet