Scientific Demonstration

The goal of your scientific demonstration should be to teach your audience and the judges about a single principle that pertains to the sciences, mathematics, or engineering by demonstrating through the use of objects or physical activity a process, how something works, or how something was built. Precautions should be taken to follow minimum safety requirements, including the use of personal safety gear. The use of hazardous materials is not allowed. If in doubt about what materials would be appropriate, consult faculty from the relevant academic department.


Each scientific demonstration will be presented on a continual basis throughout the symposium. Demonstrations should last around five to ten (5-10) minutes total, including set-up, demonstration, and Q&A. Presenters should consider:

  • rehearsing the demonstration and performing the demonstration safely with no harm to self or others
  • demonstrating a scientific principle rather than testing a hypothesis
  • including an important educational component as well as the possibility for some entertainment value
  • engaging the audience through a clearly structured demonstration
  • providing information that is applicable and necessary for describing your subject to a diverse and general audience
  • speaking loudly and clearly
  • using other media, including visuals, that support, highlight, or illuminate main conceptual points
  • wearing appropriate attire

Creating a great demonstration takes significant preparation.  


Upon submission acceptance (see How to Submit), you’ll need to submit an electronic copy (pdf—no larger than 4mb) of your demonstration at least a week before the symposium to Please include in your email's subject heading the entry type and your last name such as “Scientific Demonstration– Brinton.” Include all contact information (name, preferred email, and phone) in your email to us. On the day of the symposium, participants will need to register during the scheduled time. Participants will then perform their demonstrations according to the SME Symposium schedule.


Here are the general judging criteria for scientific demonstration:

  1. Adherence to General Guidelines (see above)
  2. Content 
    • Is the purpose and main point readily identifiable? 
    • Does the content follow an easy to grasp structure and order?
    • Is scientific, mathematical, or technological content explained clearly for an appropriate audience of academics, students, and lay audiences alike?
    • Are key points supported by evidence, including cited research, graphics/charts, equations, or rhetorical devices such as logic, appeals, or figurative language?
    • Is evidence relevant and crucial for contributing to one’s understanding of the subject or argument?
    • Is content student’s own work?
    • Do the results or conclusions contribute to the understanding, use, or study of the subject matter?
    • Is there any indication of plagiarism?
  3. Style and Format
    • Are texts and graphics balanced, creating a sense of harmony and stability?
    • Are words and images aligned with each other to highlight structures, create content hierarchies, or improve readability?
    • Are related images and words placed into groups and kept separate from other groups?
    • Are style and format choices used consistently to create a sense of uniformity and cohesion?
    • Does color and contrast help organize or highlight content?
    • Are in-text and bibliographic citations present and correctly formatted?
    • Does syntax, grammar, or punctuation impede coherence?
  4. Presentation & Delivery
    • Did the presenter(s) and demonstration engage the audience and draw their attention?
    • Was the demeanor and appearance of the presenter(s) professional?
    • Did presenter(s) avoid jargon, speak clearly, and maintain a good pace?
    • Did the presenter(s) effectively use body language, gestures, and eye contact?
    • Was presenter(s) knowledgeable about subject and respond adequately to questions?
  5. Overall Impression

Winners for the scientific demonstration entries will be announced during the SME Symposium dinner.