No announcement yet.

First Time Project Judge

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • First Time Project Judge

    I am going to be a project judge this year for the first time. I have been coaching for 4 years and this will be my first time judging. I did the online training videos and everything, but wonder if there is any advice you all might want to share. Thanks.

  • #2
    Thank you very much for volunteering! You will find out very quickly how much this will help your own team. Here are my tips for you.

    1. Ask questions that will help you fill out the rubric. You will need a completed rubric for each team. If you didn't ask them who they shared with, and they didn't tell you, you are going to have a hard time. Make sure you can put something in every row.

    2. Speaking of the rubric, put helpful, actionable comments where you can. "I would have understood your idea better if you had drawn a picture" is MUCH better than "Cute team!!!!!" (Fortunately, I have never gotten the "Cute Team" comment, but I do hear about them from time to time)

    3. Stay positive! Even if you know the team's idea is impossible, respect the fact that they may have put a lot of work into it. Maybe they just figured out the week before the tournament that their idea won't work. THAT'S OK! Nowhere on the rubric does it say full credit only for ideas that work.

    4. They are not defending a dissertation. Do not grill them to see if you can trip them up. Ideally they will all leave with a good, positive feeling.

    5. Take good notes! You will see a lot of teams, and they will all be a blur at the end of the day. Rank them after each team between sessions. You can't rank them all at once at the end of the day.

    6. Remember that you are also a coach. Think about how you would want your team to be treated. Think about the feedback you would like your team to leave with. Try to provide that experience to each team that you see that day.

    7. Take the lessons that you learn from judging back to your team. Tell them how your day went. Tell them why it is so important that the presentation must cover all aspects of the rubric. Tell them why they need to keep their answers short and to the point. Explain to them that the judges are volunteers and not experts in whatever you are presenting and that the presentation must be crystal clear to anyone watching it. Tell them EXACTLY what they can expect in the project judging session. "The clock starts when...." "The room where I judged was set up like this, but other rooms may not have this feature" "If you go over the five minutes, this will happen" "These are the types of questions you can expect from the judges" etc etc.

    8. Have fun (it's a core value after all!) It's going to be tiring, but it will be quite rewarding.
    Norfolk, Virginia, USA
    FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014


    • #3
      Contact your local affiliate for details on how project judging works in your area. Judging 16 teams is a lot different than judging 4 teams. A judging pair works differently than a panel. How much time will you have with each team? How strict is your region on presentation duration? Are you judging the project or an aspect of the project (creative presentation, research quality, ...). How much time do you have between judging sessions?

      In Minnesota a judge typically sees 16 teams. This makes the recommended "sort" method hard to use. After 8 teams I don't remember team 1 anymore, so I use scores. Even if our region didn't use scores I would still use scores to help me rank the teams at the end of the day.

      I've been at tournaments where there is one project judge, two project judges, three project judges, three project judges and a time keeper. Working by yourself you need to ask questions and write comments during the answer. There isn't much time for deliberation.. Working in pairs or panels you get more breaks. If there is a lot of time between judging sessions you can take notes during the session and fill out the evaluation form between sessions. If there is little time between sessions you should write positive comments and helpful critiques directly on the evaluation form and have a notepad for info you want to keep private.

      Don't be afraid to ask questions the team cannot answer. I start out with easy questions. My questions get progressively harder until I bump into something the team cannot answer. I back off, pick a different line of questioning and repeat. Teams work hard on their project. Asking a mix of questions provides them with an opportunity to really shine. What a team learns researching the project can really surprise you.
      Last edited by Dean Hystad; 10-31-2018, 02:25 PM.


      • #4
        Thank you both for your suggestions. I'm looking forward to it. I'm also forcing (as much as possible) my team to be there to volunteer too since our school is hosting the event. Anything I should tell my kids to look for as they volunteer?


        • #5
          Work with the tournament coordinator and find out where he/she normally needs extra help. Rounding up teams to make sure they are on time is usually one thing that could easily keep two kids busy with all day. They can also help teams unload and get stuff inside as they arrive.
          Norfolk, Virginia, USA
          FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014


          • #6
            Originally posted by SkipMorrow View Post
            2. Speaking of the rubric, put helpful, actionable comments where you can. "I would have understood your idea better if you had drawn a picture" is MUCH better than "Cute team!!!!!" (Fortunately, I have never gotten the "Cute Team" comment, but I do hear about them from time to time)
            Yes! This! Very much!
            I'm in a region (North Texas) where only team members are allowed in the judging rooms. The only feedback I get is from the team after they exit the room (and I think most tournaments employ some sort of mind wiping flashy thing as the kids exit because they often can't seem to tell me much about what the judges asked them about after they leave the room) and what's on the rubric. My first few years as a coach this was especially difficult as I just didn't know how to help my team improve going forward. When the team got no comments or "Great idea!" comments on the rubric I had nothing to go on. Only slightly better were generic comments, "Don't be nervous" wasn't terribly helpful. "Speak more clearly" was a bit better (except that I have a team member with a speech issue and he's doing the best he can. I learned to notify the tournament organizer, asking them to give the judges a heads up about issues like that.). Actionable I think is a great, key word for rubric comments which are the most helpful to teams and judges.

            Fort Worth Robotics - North Texas Region Team #455
            Technical coach, baker of the cookies, keeper of the time, transporter of the travel field walls, finder of the spare parts, maker of the pop culture references that only the other tall people understand.


            • #7
              I was very grateful to a project judge many years ago that flat-out told my team that the "solution" they devised for the problem they picked would do more harm than good. The kids were able to make changes before the next tournament and ended up being finalists for "Innovative Solution" in that category.