Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve put together answers to key questions. If you need further information, you can always email us at [email protected]

How do we enter the Big Science Event at Home competition?

You will find all the information you need to enter and submit your entry here.

When is the closing date?

The closing date for the Big Science Event at Home is 13th July 2020.

When are the winners announced?

Winners will be announced on 20th July 2020.

How much does it cost to enter?

Entry is free!

What age do we have to be to enter?

All ages can participate in the Big Science Event at Home. Remember to fill in your age/s on the application form.

How do you judge different age groups?

One of the key features of the Big Science Event at Home is that children of all ages can take part. When our experienced judges are looking at the entries, they will take into account the ages of the children and consider their work against age-related expectations for science. The focus isn’t on presentation skills or the outcomes of the investigations, it’s more about the process that the children have gone through and the thinking that they have done as they have designed, implemented and evaluated their investigations.

Who are the judges?

Our judges comprise members of Science Oxford’s team and local scientists who work in science education and engagement. All of our judges are provided with training and guidance to ensure consistency and fairness and we are looking to celebrate lots of aspects of science – from interesting questions and novel experiments to careful measurement, great teamwork and clear communication! Our judges are: Lynne Pebworth (one of our trustees with years of experience of teaching science and training science teachers); Mike Dennis (former manager of the Science Oxford Centre and teacher trainer); Sarah Bearchell (of “Sarah’s Adventures in Science”, award-winning local science communicator); Renee Watson (“Head of Explosions” at The Curiosity Box); our FameLab finalist and quantum physicist, Maria Violaris; and our sponsor, Abbott.

What are the judges looking for?

There is no formal “mark scheme” for the Big Science Event, as we want children to be thinking about the question they want to answer, rather than ticking a number of boxes to get the best score.  Our judges will be considering the investigations across four broad categories, that we like to call “engagement, thinking, doing, and talking”.

“Engagement” is about ensuring the children enjoyed themselves, were enthusiastic about science and their investigation, and were able to explain how and why they chose the investigation they did.

“Thinking” is ensuring the children were able to interpret their results, maybe making predictions for further investigations, and also the ability to think about what they have done, such as talking about any problems they had, or ways to improve their investigation.

“Doing” is about how they carried out their investigation, and demonstrating that they worked scientifically.

“Talking” is about how they communicated all of the above, and doesn’t just mean talking! While their presentation skills themselves are not being judged, it is important that the judges are able to find out as much as possible about the investigation for the categories above, and so the final presentation must contain as much information as possible, communicated clearly with appropriate scientific language.

How many should we have in a team?

You can decide – the number in each team is flexible. You can enter as an individual or as a small group. We suggest no more than 6 in team to ensure everyone is involved.

How long should my/our investigations take?

You can spend as much time on your investigations as you like. It really depends on what you are investigating, what type of investigation you are doing, how much time you have and how carried away you get! Some of you may spend several hours on your investigation over a number of weeks, others may focus on one afternoon. We just want people to join in at whatever level is right for them.

How should we present our investigation?

You can share your investigation with us in any way that you would like! Individuals or teams can make a short film (2-minutes max), create a poster or slides about your investigation, or write down or draw what you’ve done. Remember to always include the title of the question you are investigating. To make it easier, you can also use our Investigation Planning Sheet to help you.

What format should we use to submit our entry?

If it’s a video,a .MOV or .mp4 file is best. If you have a YouTube account, it would be better to upload your video to a video-sharing platform such as YouTube and send us a link rather than sending us large files. If you don’t have a YouTube account, you can send us your film via Wetransfer to [email protected] but remember to include all your details and fill in the form. If you are sending us a poster, slides or a written investigation, you could submit this as a Word document, PDF or send us a photo (jpeg). Whichever way you choose, don’t forget to fill in the entry form here.

Have you got any tips on making a video about my investigation?

Try and keep your video as short and to the point as possible (under 2 minutes, please!). Use landscape format if you can, although portrait is fine too. Make sure your investigation is lit well so we can see it, and frame your images so you don’t have cut off heads or bits of your work missing! Think about your background, could you make an interesting backdrop or shoot outside? What is the sound like? Speak slowly and clearly and one at a time. You could do a question and answer style video or a video diary, a time-lapse or even an animation. What is the title of your investigation question, and why does it interest you? Perhaps you could interview others in your team like a reporter; share top tips about the things you learned; or give yourself a review out of ten at the end! Tell us what you liked about the experiment, what was difficult, what was funny – how did you enjoy it during lockdown – or what you might do differently if you were able to repeat your experiments!

Have you got any tips on writing up my investigation?

We’re not looking for lots of writing, but if you choose to write about your investigation, in might be helpful to include a list of the equipment and materials you used, a description of what you did, what you found difficult (and how you overcame any challenges!), what you discovered (or didn’t!) and what you might do differently next time. Remember to include as a title the question you wanted to investigate. You can write less by adding photographs or drawings or presenting your results as a table or a graph.

Have you got any tips on making a poster for my investigation?

Use your investigation question as the title for your poster. Think about how best to illustrate the different steps that you went through and what you found out at the end. You could include pictures or photos, a table or graph of your results, and the main conclusions that you came to. If things didn’t work as you planned say what you learned or what you’d do differently next time. Make your poster colourful, attractive and easy to read.

What are the prizes?

Thanks to our sponsors, we have a range of fantastic prizes including £500 of Playforce playground equipment that you could win for your school, 25 subscriptions to The Curiosity Box to give away as well as tickets to the Science Oxford Centre when we reopen. We also hope to invite all our winners and their families to a special celebration event at the Science Oxford Centre later this year.

If we win, how will we collect our prize?

We’ll be in contact with winners by email soon after 20th July 2020 to confirm how you will receive your prize – most will be sent by post so we will confirm your postal address at that stage.

Where can I find out more information?

You can find more information in our getting started section or download our resources. If you still have some questions, you can always email us on [email protected]