Science and Engineering Fair of Houston

Judging Criteria & Procedures

Judging Criteria

The Official Scoring Sheet contains a complete summary of the criteria to be used by the judges in evaluating each project. It is intended to provide guidance for judges and to insure that the judging process is carried out as equitably as possible.


Note that it is not essential for a project to be completely original, but the source(s) of ideas for the project should be acknowledged.


Judges will ascertain whether the student has applied the proper scientific and/or engineering principles in the design and execution of the experiment and carried out their data collection and analysis in a systematic manner. Students who do not have a good understanding of the science/engineering related to their projects will be downgraded accordingly by the judges.


The project’s conclusions should follow logically from the data analysis and reflect careful consideration by the student of possible errors in the experiment.


Student should keep their presentation within the time limits set by the judge. Judges are prepared to hear polished presentations from the more experienced students. Judges will go beyond the student’s prepared presentation by posing questions that can determine the student’s level of understanding of the principles underlying their project.

Judging Procedures

Exhibits will be judged in one of three divisions: the Junior/Middle School (7th and 8th grades); the Ninth (9th grade); and the Senior (10, 11, & 12th grades) Divisions, Individual and Team. Each division is subdivided into subject classifications such as chemistry, engineering, animal science, plant science, etc. Prior to judging day, all project displays must be inspected and approved by the Rules/Safety Committee and the Scientific Review Committee. Projects not approved must be removed from the Exhibition Hall prior to judging.

Judging: 8:00 AM–8:30 AM

Judges are to arrive for final instructions and information pertaining to the logistics and expectations of the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston.

Judging: 9:00 AM–12:00 PM

Place Award Judging - All exhibits are visited by the judging team. Exhibitor will present a 5 minute description of the project, followed by a series of specific questions by the judges. The exhibitor may also ask questions and seek advice from the judges at this point. Each judging team should obtain all the information necessary to make a professional evaluation of each criterion listed on the project scoring sheet. The team captain compiles the judges’ normalized scores and delivers the collective rankings to the category coordinator. The coordinator and team captains will then decide which projects will advance for futher judging.

Special Award Judging - Some agencies will judge projects in particular categories while others will be interested in all categories. They determine their own judging criteria, procedures and awards.

Judging: 1:30 PM–4:00 PM

Place Award Judging - Judging continues to determine the place awards for each division and category. Most place award winners are eligible to enter the Texas State Science and Engineering Fair as well as Intel ISEF. Junior place award winners are eligible to enter Broadcom MASTERS.

During place award judging category coordinators meet with the judging chair to evaluate the first place award winners in each of the three divisions. These judges normally work in small teams so that a wide spectrum of expertise can be brought to bear during each interview. After the teams complete their interviews, the overall division award winners will be chosen.