Thursday, September 6, 2012

surviving a high school science project defense

I was at the science project presentations at the San Pablo City Science High School earlier. It's my first time to sit at a judge's panel for project defenses; the only other time I had been in one was during students' research proposal presentations... the same students who had their project defenses yesterday. 

As the students went through their slideshows, I listed 10 ways to get through the defense based on how the students performed (in the hopes that this list could help someone someday).
  • The rules of graphic design apply to scientific presentations. Read: use pictures as much as possible; avoid long sentences and paragraphs; present statements as bullet lists; and the list goes on.
  • Don't start a presentation with "The problem of our project is...". This tip I've heard previously from Nelzo (when he presented his research during a seminar).
  • Pace yourself during the presentation and during the question/answer portion.
  • Remember this: you know a lot more about the paper than the panelist. So don't be afraid of the big bad questioner. 
  • There's nothing wrong with admitting that you don't know the answer.
  • There's also nothing wrong with correcting the panelist if he/she misunderstood your point. 
  • You are selling an idea (that you're project is a good one). So be prepared to answer questions about the significance of the study or the practical applications of your results.
  • Never contradict yourself during your presentation. Otherwise, your panelists will sink their teeth into the inconsistencies.
  • Embrace results that show no statistically significant difference. 
  • Practice. Practice. Practice.