Last week I was lucky enough to serve as a judge for the county’s STEM fair. This included all grades and forms of science categories. The students present were selected from their respective schools and sent to county with the hopes of making it to the state rounds.
Upon arrival I was assigned to forth grade Physical Science – Matter category. A fairly large category on a comparative level of the others. I was partnered with another intern and a retired science teacher who has been a judge for the past seven years. As a team of three were assigned ten students to review.
The first thing I learned is that we cannot ask for their name or the name of the school they attend to prevent any favoritism that may affect the judging of the projects. The second thing I learned is that students are not aloud to engage in projects/investigations that produce the growing of mold; however, if by default it happens that is acceptable. I was surprised by this rule as it seems to limit students creativity and options to explore science.
As we approached each student their personalities made such a difference in what and how we learned about their investigations. Some seemed like authentic kiddish projects such as which paper makes the best paper footballs or the projects involving candy. Other investigations made me think “I bet this was their parents idea” but maybe I was being overly cynical and even if it was their parents idea if they followed through with it I should not judge them on whether the idea was from them or not.
In the picture above and to the left you will see these snazzy judge name badges we were provided as well as a sample evaluation chart used to guide questioning and scoring. To the right is about a quarter of the projects that were presented onsite. I was impressed with number of participants and the amount of family support that showed up. Events like this are great ways to incorporate family and learning with the student.
All in all this was a great experience for me to partake in! The more I participate in the math and sciences the more I think I could make a good teacher in subjects other than ELA.