New Judging System Denies Badges

By Taulant Kastrati ’15 & Charlynn Trish Ben ’15

Under the new judging guidelines, most seniors in the Science Research program have only earned entrant badges in the Intel STS (Science Talent Search). This digital award, which is one of many, is given to every participant; however, last year’s eleven seniors won more badges than this year’s senior research class.

“I was surprised that the science research students, as a group, received a fewer other badges than the entrant badge considering the quality and depth of the papers submitted,” said Stefanie Henry ’14.
In the beginning of January, seniors were notified by the Society for Science and the Public (SSP) that they would receive their badges shortly, but they weren’t emailed back.

“I thought that there was a mistake,” said Mr. Glenn Elert, Coordinator for Science Research. “These students have worked very hard on their projects. Some of the research papers were good, and some of them were excellent, but the seniors have nothing to show for it.”

Mr. Elert personally sent an e-mail to the SSP about what had happened. The e-mail mentioned that several schools have experienced a decline in the number of badges being presented because the Intel STS “refined their criteria on what they were looking for” in science projects.

“As a student who has worked three long years on his project,” said Chris Ayala ’14, “to be presented with the explanation that the judges refined their criteria on what they were looking for was no excuse for the lack of badges this year.”

Sounding eager to help out future applicants, the SSP considered making improvements to the badging system by asking evaluators how they’re evaluating. That way, applicants could know what they can do to improve their applications.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Ms. Sullivan, a research teacher, said. “There’s a sense of blindness one feels when applying to Intel. If I were a student, I would feel very discouraged not knowing what I can do for my paper.”

According to Intel, the Intel STS is a national science competition in which high school students compete for $1,250,000 in scholarships. The badging system was introduced to Midwood last year, though it was used two years earlier by the ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair). These badges award students on scientific-based merits, such as writing a research paper especially well or showing student initiative.

“As a still growing competition,” said Ayala ’14, “I understand that they had to make new policies but there was no reason to make it so that barely anyone won, especially without stating requirements of the badges.”

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