During physical in-person fairs, when project displays are set up inside the California Science Center, there are over a thousand students and judges spread throughout the building, so no student is ever alone. The fair is then a public (and safe) environment for all participants.
During our first virtual CSEF in 2021, in order to ensure that all students were in a suitably “public” environment, CSEF established a policy that no judge would be allowed to be in any virtual interview room alone with any student. zFairs provided an option by which this prohibition was enforced on the web site.
However, serious unanticipated problems arose during the judging interviews. When any judge went missing, the other judge scheduled in the same room was blocked, and the student(s) in the room lost the chance to speak with multiple judges. Judges went missing for a variety of reasons including hardware problems, software problems, not following their assigned schedule, or simply not showing up.
CSEF resolved not to repeat that mistake.
CSEF has done away with the requirement that there must be more than one judge in an interview room in order for the interview to proceed. Most, though not all, interviews this year will be with a single judge. Now, if a single judge goes missing, no other judge and no other interview, will be impacted. All interviews that are possible with those judges who are present will proceed.
To ensure the security of all student participants, CSEF has adopted two policies:
There is no recording produced if the only person in an interview room is a judge. In contrast, whenever a student enters an interview room, the recording will begin, regardless of whether a judge is present. Therefore, the web browser used by the student is a critical element in the recording.
When entering the interview room, the student will need to enable sharing of their audio and video devices. Rejecting the web site’s request will cause the student to be kicked out of the room.
Unfortunately, even though most web browsers are capable of displaying content from most web sites, for the purpose of these recordings, some browsers work better than others. After extensive testing, zFairs recommends that all students should use Google Chrome as their browser during interviews. In testing by CSEF, Google Chrome has proven to work reliably, while other browsers (Firefox, Edge, Opera, Safari, etc.) have at best had inconsistent success, and at worst, have failed to generate a recording.
If your browser interferes with your recordings on Tuesday, April 11, this will prevent judges from interviewing you. Don’t let that happen to you. If you do not already have Google Chrome on the device that you will use on Tuesday, April 11, please get it now. If you plan on using a school-owned device for your interviews, you should ensure that your school IT staff installs Google Chrome before Tuesday, April 11. Please note that CSEF explicitly recommends that students NOT attempt to use school-supplied devices or school-supplied internet access for their interviews owing to the frequent failures of such operations during interviews in previous years.