Judging fares well

March 3, 2023


Aditi Bhaskar

Soren Tucker, Anthony Herrera, and Henri Villeneuve stand amidst a busy exhibit hall. They are excited about their project.

Don’t we all love being in a warm gymnasium with over 200 students, plus over 50 judges, all competing for the same few advancements spots? Well, it’s more fun when it’s a science fair, and there are detailed posters all around to look at, and numerous interesting people to talk with. 

So, how does judging work? Judges – volunteers from the community – walk around the exhibit hall to read posters in their assigned categories in the morning. Students file in after lunch, from both West-Linn and Wilsonville, for a full afternoon of poster-presentation judging. Over the afternoon, judges visit each booth to ask the student more about their work and answer any clarifying questions they have. This is when elevator pitches and props are useful – they help the student explain their project in detail. Students come from middle and high schools from across our school district. This year, over 150 projects participated in total!

This was senior Soren Tucker’s first fair. Tucker says, “It was great to see people who are experts in the field give us feedback on our project, and hear that they’re interested in the project.” Some judges jump into questions while others want to hear a detailed story from start to finish – they just want to hear all about the hard work you’ve done over the past year. Everyone’s excited!

Junior Ava Riddle enjoyed her judging session. “The judges we had were really good,” she says. They were “genuinely interested” and “asked us great questions.” Although Riddle and her partner were “pretty scared to talk to them at first,” they realized they had the information, and it was “just about the confidence I said it with.”

Students got varying numbers of sticky tabs on their board – indications of how many judges had talked to them. Some categories averaged 4 sticky tabs while others averaged 10, depending on what the judge-student ratios were. Categories are the broad subject which the project falls into. There were behavioral, engineering, computer science, biology, environmental science, physics, and more categories of projects in the exhibit hall.

Junior Kate Kurata says, “being able to speak with experts who understand my project and befriending them as well” was one of her favorite parts of the judging experience. Freshman Arush Goswami enthusiastically adds, “Some even came back and talked to us later to know more!”

As the three-hour judging session came to a close, students talked in excited whispers to neighboring students as Mrs. Danielle Schroeder picked up a mic and announced details on how everyone would be exiting the exhibit hall – also known as the aux gym. There were middle schoolers and highschoolers from across the district who had to board the right busses to get home on time, so the exhibit hall was busy as everyone exited. The event was coordinated to the very last detail by our amazing fair coordinators Mrs. Danielle and Ms. Emma Smith, and it ran smoothly!

Now, the students anticipate the awards ceremony the next night…