Qualifications for Judges

The most important qualification for any judge is the willingness to commit the time and energy to honor the hard work of the students and to encourage their further interest in science, math and engineering. Fairs in the Northwest Science Expo System (NWSES) utilize both Category Judges and Special Award Judges. Category judges select the category in which they wish to judge, and their procedures are specified by NWSES. Special Award judges serve individual organizations that wish to provide awards, and these groups set their own eligibility criteria for judges and procedures for judging. 

Category Judges
Judges who wish to participate in regional fairs may register to judge in either middle school or high school, or indicate that they will allow the Fair Director to assign them to either division. For the Northwest Science Expo, judges must select either high school or middle school as their judging preference.

Eligibility Criteria for Judges at High School Fairs
High school fairs in the NWSES follow the rules governing participation in ISEF. There are now 15 categories in which high school students may enter projects. Judges should have an MA, MS, or Ph.D. (preferred) in the category in which they choose to judge, or in a closely related field. Professionals at the Bachelor’s level with three or more years of relevant experience are also eligible to serve as high school judges. Previous experience in judging science fairs at the local, state, or national level is helpful. In cases where eligibility is questionable, the Judging Coordinator will make the decision.

Eligibility Criteria for Judges at Middle School Fairs
Most middle school fairs at the regional level and NWSE middle school fair will provide 14 categories for student projects. Judges should have some undergraduate coursework in the selected category, or experience in a related field. Additional experience or higher degrees are desirable. Graduate students in science or science education are eligible to judge middle school projects. Advanced high school students may serve as non-judging interviewers for middle school students.

Potential Conflicts of Interest
Potential judges who mentor or know students with projects in a particular category are strongly encouraged to register to judge in a category or division (HS or MS) in which they do not know any student. During judge orientation, if any potential conflicts of interest still exist, judges affected are asked to disclose to the team any such relationship. The team will decide what to do to minimize these issues. We expect that each judge will act in a professional and objective manner and given the power of numbers, judging should thus be fair. One intent of this policy is to ensure that we do not penalize people who go the extra mile to mentor students in projects throughout the year.

Parents may be allowed to judge at a fair their child is competing at as long as they are not judging in the same category as their child is competing. When possible in the opposite division is best. Parents are not allowed to stay and be Finalist judges or judge Best of Fair.