Judges

Thank you for your interest in becoming a judge for the OCSEF.

Judges evaluate projects and interview students to determine which projects merit receiving awards in their category.   Each year several hundred students present projects at the OCSEF and judging is the culmination of their hard work. As a judge, you become an important part of their learning, and your encouragement has an impact on their view of science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM).

The student interviews are the highlight of the OCSEF.   It is an opportunity for students to showcase their work to the judges and for the judges to create a positive and welcoming experience for the students.   Our goal is to make the OCSEF a memorable experience for the 6th – 12th grade students who participate and, hopefully, provide a spark to pursue more education and careers in one of the STEM fields.

To become a judge in the OCSEF please click on the link below to be added to our database.

Click here to sign up and fill the application

The OCSEF Board of Directors thanks you for your interest and your participation.

Why Be a Judge

The Orange County Science & Engineering Fair (OCSEF) is an annual event organized to encourage the youth of our county to experience STEM by conducting a project and to consider a career in science, math, computer science, or engineering. Judges play a critical role in the student’s science fair experience. Your judging can affect students profoundly, sometimes altering their career choices and almost always influencing their attitudes toward science and technology.

Past OCSEF judges say:

“Thank you very much for allowing me to participate in this event as a judge. I had a great time reading the abstracts and was thrilled to see the projects as well as speak to the students. I would definitely be interested in joining you next year so do keep me in mind.”

“I thank you for a wonderful day! I had a great time meeting and working with all of my fellow judges.”

“I am greatly encouraged to see such enthusiasm for science and engineering with these youngsters. They are our future, the best and the brightest. I will indeed be a part of the next cycle as a judge.”

“I am greatly encouraged to see such enthusiasm for science and engineering with these youngsters. They are our future, the best and the brightest. I will indeed be a part of the next cycle as a judge.”

Who should apply?

Scientists, engineers, educators, whether currently working or retired, who are interested in encouraging the young people of Orange County to consider a career in science or engineering. Minimum requirements are a Bachelor’s degree in a STEM field or five years working experience in a STEM field.

Please refer your colleagues who meet the requirements for an OCSEF Judge to this web page.  We always need judges to provide every student with a quality OCSEF experience.

When and where is judging?

The OCSEF takes place in March.  Check the OCSEF Calendar for the current year’s schedule. 

The 2021 OCSEF will be conducted virtually.   Judges will have an opportunity to view student project submissions on line through the OCSEF Survey Monkey platform before the interviews with students.  Student interviews and judges’ deliberations for awards will be conducted on Zoom. We are scheduling approximately 3 hours for interviews and 1 hour for deliberations.

How do I apply to be a judge?

Complete the On-Line Sign-Up Form. Please contact our Director of Judging if you have any questions or difficulty submitting the on-line form.

Click here to sign up and fill the application

Please contact our Director of Judging if you have any questions or difficulty submitting the on-line form.

How is the Judging Program Organized?

udges identify the student division (Junior Division / Grades 6-8  or  Senior Division / Grades 9-12) in which they prefer to judge.  They also identify the top three project categories in which they wish to judge. 

Judges have the opportunity to review details about the projects in their category before the student interviews.   For the 2021 Virtual OCSEF, judging teams will be assigned to interview students on Zoom on March 24, 2021. 

Judges are provided with a rating sheet so that all members of the team are evaluating projects based on the same criteria.

Judges deliberate with the other members of their team after the interviews to decide on awards.

Role of Judging Captains

Judging Captains coordinate the activities of the judges assigned to their judging category. This includes assigning judges to teams, reviewing the judging objectives and policies for evaluating projects, and leading the deliberations on awards.

We ask Judging Captains to be our “eyes and ears” for projects that are worthy of the Sweepstakes Prize (Jr. and Sr.) and for meritorious projects for Special Awards.

At the end awards deliberations, Judging Captains verify the awards for their category and submit the Awards List to the Director of Judging.


It may be selfish, but we tend to feel great when we help others. Perhaps it’s the joy we see on their faces when we’ve accomplished a huge task for them, or the fact that we also gain a lot out of these experiences in terms of friends, contacts, and experience. Either way, volunteering is a rewarding experience which benefits ourselves and organizations alike.

– John Grant