Judging: The Judging Process


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The Judging Process

The judging process has four stages:

  • All competition entries are reviewed.
  • Semifinalist Selection: 30 semifinalist teams are chosen.
  • Finalist Selection: 8 finalist teams are chosen to attend the National Championship Event.
  • National Competition: Judges select the two Gold Medal Winning Teams and the Columbus Foundation Community Grant Winning Team.

NOTE: Semifinalist, finalist and winning team categories each have different judging criteria.

The Semifinalist Judging Process

Group Photo1. All entries received are screened for compliance to the rules.

2. One copy is kept on file and one copy is sent to three separate, randomly selected judges (prominent educators, scientists, engineers and community leaders).

3. Each entry is evaluated anonymously based on the stated criteria (see below) and assigned a numerical score by each judge.

4. Entry evaluations are collected and an aggregate score is created based on the sum of the three separate judges' numerical scores.

5. The top 30 entries with the highest aggregate scores are selected as semifinalists (30 total semifinalists).

6. All teams receive a feedback form with comments from the three judges.

Criteria Evaluation

Each entry will be evaluated based on creativity, innovation, scientific accuracy, relevance to the community, feasibility and clarity of communication. The following categories will be used to score the entries:

1. Creativity: The demonstration of imagination, problem-solving techniques, artistic skills, etc.

2. Innovation: An assessment of the proposed solution's uniqueness, the use of science to solve the problem and the potential impact of the solution on the community or in general.

3. Scientific Accuracy: An assessment of the application of scientific laws and theory and an evaluation of the methods used to research the topic and to test the proposed solution.

4. Feasibility: An assessment of the likelihood that the solution will work as presented based on relevant economic, political and social issues. Higher points will be given to plans that are developed fully versus plans that need adjustments to succeed.

5. Clarity of Communication: Includes adherence to the entry guidelines (written and visual), as well as grammar, writing skills, organization of the facts and data, etc. Project should show a coherent display and presentation.


Each entry is assigned a numerical score by each judge as follows:

  • Creativity: 20 points
  • Innovation: 20 points
  • Scientific Accuracy: 24 points
  • Feasibility: 18 points
  • Clarity of Communication: 18 points

Semifinalist teams will be announced mid-April 2015.


The Finalist Judging Process

1. A separate panel of judges will evaluate all 30 semifinalist entries based on the same judging criteria used to select the semifinalists.

2. The judging panel may include prominent educators, scientists, engineers and community leaders and may include officers of the sponsoring organization.

3. The panel will meet to discuss the entries based on the scored results of each panelist.

4. Discussion will continue until there is a unanimous vote of approval for selecting the eight finalist teams.

Criteria Evaluation

Evaluation criteria for finalist team selection are the same as for the semifinalist team selection described above.


Each entry is assigned a numerical score by each judge as follows:

  • Creativity: 20 points
  • Innovation: 20 points
  • Scientific Accuracy: 24 points
  • Feasibility: 18 points
  • Clarity of Communication: 18 points

Finalist teams will be announced late April 2015.


The National Competition Judging Process

1. Six weeks before the National Championship Event, each finalist team will receive detailed instructions concerning the National Championship Event competition.

2. Before attending, finalist teams are asked to develop a five-minute live presentation and display booth. Presentations should be informative and entertaining. Materials used in the display booth may include videos, computer programs, models, etc. Teams may refine and improve upon the original entry idea(s).

3. Each finalist team is provided with a $200 development grant to fund the development of the presentation and the display booth. Teams may not exceed the $200 limit, including in-kind contributions. Teams may be asked to submit a ledger of expenses.

4. After the five-minute presentation, the judges will ask in-depth questions and the team will have time to further demonstrate the booth materials.

5. The judges independently evaluate and score each team and meet to deliberate the merits of each finalist team.

6. National award winners will be announced at the National Championship Event.

NOTE: The National Championship Event is scheduled for June 2015.


1. Evaluation criteria are the same as for the semifinalist and finalist selections described above (creativity, innovation, scientific accuracy, feasibility and clarity of communication).

2. In addition to the components judged at previous stages, finalist teams will also be judged on:

  • The five-minute team presentation.
  • The display booth and presentation materials.
  • Question-and-answer session.