Science Fair Judges

In order to execute one of the largest city-wide science fairs, NYCSEF is entirely dependent on service minded educators, scientists, mathematicians, and engineers who volunteer their time one Sunday and/or one weekday each Spring. These individuals evaluate science fair projects in two rounds of competition, determine which students will represent New York City at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and which students to recognize at a separate Awards Ceremony. Science fair submissions come from over 50 private and public high schools in the five boroughs, and those students who qualify for the fairs value the feedback they receive from professionals in the field. It is a rewarding experience, both for our judges and for the students, and we hope you will consider registering as a judge for either or both events.


For the Preliminary Round, judges should have a solid background in the category or categories they view. Naturally, educators (high school and higher education) in mathematics or sciences and professional researchers/scientists/engineers meet this qualification. For those adults who work closely with science fair competitors, either as their parents, teachers/administrators in their schools, or mentors of their research, we ask that you excuse yourself from judging any assigned science fair projects that may present a conflict of interest.

The 2016 Preliminary Round will be held on Sunday, March 6th, at the City College of New York.  See Schedule of Events.

In the Finals Round, judges should hold a doctoral/professional degree that directly relates to research in the category, or a master’s degree with significant years of experience. To prevent conflicts of interest in the scoring, no teachers, administrators, or parents may serve in this round. And because only the top 25% of projects are invited to the Finals Round, we ask mentors who work with competing projects to recuse themselves from judging in those categories.

The 2016 Finals Round will be held on Tuesday, March 29, at the American Museum of Natural History.

Serving as science fair judge entails more than volunteering your time and expertise. You are making a memorable impact on the lives of the some most talented students in New York City. Often times you are the first professional in a science or engineering field these students have encountered, outside of their science or math teachers. You are acting as an ambassador for your profession, encouraging the next generation to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Science fair projects are assessed during a brief but guided conversation, with students presenting a concise summation, and answering pointed questions while standing in front of a table top tri-fold poster board of their research findings. Some of the criteria used in scoring their projects include: 1) how independently did the student(s) work; 2) how well the student(s) followed scientific, engineering, computer programming, or mathematical methodologies; 3) the detail and accuracy of research; 4) whether experimental procedures were used in the best possible way; and 5) creativity and originality in research question, materials, methodologies, or analysis/interpretation of the data. This interface between judges and students hopefully produces two outcomes: an assessment of the research project (an impartial evaluation on the project scorecards, but also immediate verbal feedback to the students on the merits or potential areas for improvement); and secondly, a more casual exchange about the student’s work, research interests, and perhaps, how to pursue other opportunities in the sciences, mathematics or engineering, while in high school and beyond.

For more detailed judging guidelines, see our General Judging Guidelines.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Preliminary and/or Finals Round, please click here to sign-up.

For questions, please email us at NYCSEF@cuny.edu.

Upcoming Dates & Deadlines

  1. 16Dec2015 NYCSEF Project Application Due Date
  2. 06Mar2016 NYCSEF Preliminary Round @ The City College of New York
  3. 29Mar2016 NYCSEF Finals Round @ The American Museum of Natural History
  4. 01Apr2016 NYCSEF Awards Ceremony @ The Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College
  5. 08May2016 International Science & Engineering Fair Week in Phoenix, AZ

Get the complete schedule

See what NYCSEF is all about


 Heart of NYCSEF

 Inspiration from our Judges

*NYCDOE Teachers- contact NYCSEF@cuny.edu to receive these videos.

News + Notes

Congrats to the 2016 Team NYC! Visit the Fair Info tab for more information.



City University of New York (CUNY) website