NMJAS 2023 Notes for Judges
NMJAS Judging Philosophy
- Our primary purpose is to educate and encourage students. These are students who have spent time above and beyond their normal studies to do a research project, write a technical paper, and to defend it. These budding scientists and/or engineers look up to you. Make every attempt to identify positive points and help improve negative ones. This should be a positive and rewarding experience.
- We are looking for research papers – not library research, collections, or gadgeteering. However, massaging or manipulating data collected on the Internet is perfectly acceptable. The process a student used should follow standard scientific or engineering practices. It does not necessarily have to contribute to the scientific or engineering base of knowledge. But it should address a unique problem. For example, duplicating a well known experiment is not innovative. Duplicating a well known experiment with the objective of identifying a potential flaw may be very innovative.
- The work you are judging is that of a middle school or high school student. It is not a masters or PhD thesis. Some students have limited resources. But do keep in mind that many of these students are very bright and could be very deep into a narrow subject area.
- We are comparing the papers of the students in this competition, and not papers seen elsewhere under other circumstances.
- Do not penalize a student for taking help from others – that is expected and common in the research community. It is essential, however, that the bulk of the effort be done by the student and that the student understand what he/she is doing. Questions to the student should be aimed at assessing the depth of the student’s knowledge about the subject.
- We are looking for thoroughness in the paper. We should try to determine if the paper cites the problem, addresses it, and presents conclusions without diverging from the main point.
- The paper should represent the skill level of the student and not a mentor or guide. It is acceptable for a student to conduct work under supervision of a professional, but the work should not be beyond the capabilities of the student.
- Clarity in both a paper and presentation is very important. We are looking for a clear, logical description of the project and its results.
- Please do not show your scores to the students. You are encouraged, however, to give the student written comments on a separate sheet or on the students paper. The students look forward to receiving written comments and suggestions from the judges. Also, try to avoid scoring the student while he/she is speaking. This could be distracting.