To make our judging process as objective as possible we have adopted a unique four-tiered judging process:
Stage 1: Double marking process which is designed to allocate a holistic grade to a project, from Level 1 (lowest) to Level 5 (highest), using a published rubric. The objective of Stage 1 judging is to identify the short-listed projects. This is the largest stage, taking up two days for the STANSW Scientific Investigation entries and the MANSW Working Mathematically entries and one evening for the IIATE Models and Innovation entries. In 2017, this may involve regional judging hubs to cater for our expanding interest in regional centres.
Stage 2: More rigorous reading of short-listed projects, in the home environment, followed by a discussion of winners for that specific category, at a particular meeting point or via electronic discussion. Stage 2 judging is performed by the senior assessors for that category and nominated experienced judges.
Stage 3: Senior assessors judge a different category, being blind to previous decisions, and then come together with original category judges to compare and finalise category placings. Senior assessors also select the best 12-15 overall projects for the ISEF panel.
Stage 4: ISEF panel, which is composed of 3 or 4 experienced and independent judges, who have not been involved in any prior stages of judging and they are blind to any prior category decision. They have a week to individually look through the overall top 12-15 projects, using a specially designed ISEF criteria. They then come together to compare and discuss their final selections for the ISEF finalists and the Young Scientist of the Year. Their decision will be kept secret (even from the Young Scientist Committee) until the ISEF panel announce the winners at the Presentation Ceremony on 1st November, at a venue to be confirmed.
At each stage of judging, no judge is to assess or be involved in decision making, where there is a possible (even perceived) conflict of interest. Our judging rubrics and our judging process is highly respected from educators around the world. In 2015, students were instructed not to include school names in their documentation. In 2016, students were instructed not to have their own name and school name on any of their documentation. This worked so well in 2016, that from 2017 on … no school name or student name is to appear on a student entry, even file name.
We suggest that the front cover of each report simply has 1. “Title of project” and 2. “Year of student eg. Year 6” and any appropriate images that relate to the project.