Science fair judging can be simplified

By Betty Williamson: PNT columnist

Science fair season is upon us, and I am sure ours is not the only home sporting a wobbling tri-fold board and a hastily-constructed hypothesis.

Due to my inability to say no, I have helped judge a number of elementary science fairs over the years. Based on that experience, I propose a revised scoring rubric with points in only three categories:

• Originality. Extra credit for projects that require neither baking soda nor vinegar.

• Conviction. I remember a boy whose project theoretically determined the age of fish by counting rings on their scales. He was adamant that the farm-raised salmon he had bought from a local retailer was something like 70 years old. When alerted to the infeasibility of a commercial product requiring seven decades to mature, he agreed, but refused to budge an inch. Points for persistence.

• Honesty. A youngster raced in late one year, long after we had started judging. Questioned by the teacher as to why the project had not arrived by set-up time, the youth answered instantly, “My mother wasn’t finished with it yet.” Surely such candor deserves recognition.

I hope the next Thomas Edison and Marie Curie are hard at work in Roosevelt County, or that at least their parents are.