Judging the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair

I volunteered to help judge the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair this year. This years fair was held this morning (Saturday 16 March) at Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids. This is a regional science fair with entrants coming from all over eastern Iowa.


For some reason this year there were plenty of volunteer judges. Someone must have gotten the word out effectively.

Judges Que

Judges Que

Above is a picture of some of the judges waiting in line to sign in.  Each judge was asked to judge six exhibits from one of the categories. Each exhibit needed to be judged by at least three judges. The categories were first divided into Junior and Senior then into Biological Science, Physical Science and Team which could be either biological or physical.  I chose Junior Physical Science because they usually have a shortage of judges volunteering for the junior division and I know less about the biological sciences.
There were over 100 judges for about 200 exhibits. The junior division was about evenly matched between physical and biological.  The senior division was mostly biological with only 16 senior physical science entries.

The six exhibits I judged ranged from all right to good.  This being a regional fair most of the really poor exhibits were already weeded out. Then again I may have been a little hard on them. I could always come up with a question that stumped the student but should have been known if they had done the research.

After I finished my judging I had a walked around and talked to a number of the senior physical exhibitors and took a few pictures. Here are some observations.

One really impressive way to make the posters was to have the entire poster printed out full size at one of the office supply stores as opposed to pasting a number of A size pages to a board.

Given some recent events it was a bit surprising to see at least three exhibits involving guns.

A number of exhibits addressed climate change or other environmental subjects but not as many as one might expect.

Given the rural nature of a lot of the schools it was not surprising to see a number of exhibits focusing on improving crop yields or herbicide effectiveness.

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