These criteria are divided up into three sections: Science
The focus is usually on validating experiments which lead to the gathering of data to prove or disprove the hypothesis or to further investigate an aim or seek answers to questions. In an hypothesis identify the cause and expected effect.
Validating tests should reproducibly (through replication) show some of the following:
- When the cause was present, the effect resulted.
- If the cause was not present, the effect did not happen.
- The effect did not arise from causes other than that stated in the hypothesis.
- If the cause was transferred to other systems, the same effect resulted.
The tests should relate to the hypothesis (or aim of the study).
The tests should not go beyond the hypothesised cause to produce the effect.
Judgements about the novelty (originality, importance, significance, etc.) of the exhibit are less valid as these can not be applied as rigorously.
Scientific Thought and Understanding
A science exhibit should show evidence of appreciation for accuracy of observation, measurement, presentation of data and reporting, along with an understanding of the underlying or related scientific principles embraced within the project.
Scientific thought and understanding may be demonstrated in a project by some of the following:
- clear statements of intent;
- an effective plan and timetable;
- good experimental design with controls;
- clear description of methods and equipment used;
- variety in the way resources are used, measurements and data are gathered;
- replication as required for an appropriate level of accuracy;
- effective presentation of data e.g. graphs, tables, etc.);
- an understanding of any computer program used in data generation or processing;
- proof that data reproducibility is statistically valid and / or recognition of limitations;
- identification of variables and sources of error; sound conclusions related to the observations and data presented;
- discussions of significance of the findings to other situations; recognition of any wider implications of the study.
There is evidence of originality in the selection of a topic or statement of the problem; uniqueness of approach; resourcefulness in obtaining, handling and interpreting data; ingenious use of equipment and materials; creative displays or use of illustrative objects; inventive apparatus; insightful conclusions; inspired applications of the principle, process or product.
An original and creative project is one which:
- investigates a subject not previously studied in that area, explores a different aspect of a traditional topic or employs novel approaches to a common theme;
- documents changes or new phenomena over a period of time;
- sets up one or more experiments, surveys or trials, each with an original hypothesis or imaginative basis;
- uses novel methods, alternative approaches or new strategies in the investigation; displays resourceful use of materials, original choice of examples or innovative selection of situations for study;
- extends the use of any equipment, apparatus or technique far beyond its usual application;
- portrays observations, measurements, results or other data in imaginative ways;
- recognises an opportunity for a novel or unusual application of the information they have gathered;
- reaches an interesting conclusion, displays a perceptive summary or presents a fresh view of the situation being studied.
Exhibitors are expected, within the constraints of the resources they have readily available, to have investigated work previously done by others and to show evidence supporting elements they identify as original.