Planning a Scientific Exhibit
Planning Your Shell Show Scientific Exhibit
Awards are given to the best exhibits entered in shell shows. Shell show exhibits can feature a single shell or multiple shells. The shells may be self-collected or from any source. Some judges use a point system when evaluating the exhibits with 100 points being the highest possible score. Points are awarded in the areas of aesthetics, specimens, labels and text, and educational value. Single shell entries are also judged on a point system. Although most judges do not keep an actual score card for each exhibit, the following information will give you an idea of what the judges think is important.
Aesthetics (Attractiveness: 20 points) (Neatness: 5 points)
Exhibits with aesthetics appeal attract viewers. Not only the shells contribute to attractiveness, but also their arrangement and surroundings. Labels, cases, backgrounds, and color schemes should complement the specimens, rather than distract from them.
Specimens should not be overcrowded or too sparse.
Labels should generally be uniform in size, typeface, borders (if any), and colors. Labels and other texts should be in an easily readable font. Mixed cases (upper and lower) are easier to read than all capital letters, which should be avoided except possibly in titles and headings.
Neatness is also important. Smudges, loose ends, exposed adhesives, misaligned text and other minor detractions can take away from an otherwise favorable impression.
Specimens (Choice of specimens: 15 points) (Completeness: 10 points)
Since shells are the focus of the show, the best shells will count most in the judging. Damaged shells can be used in a display concerning predators. Uncleaned shells might be expected in a display on camouflage. Judges will take the subject into consideration in determining what is appropriate.
Not all of the objects in exhibits need to be shells, but the same rule applies. Exhibitors must choose the objects that best illustrate their chosen subject. They must also be entered into the category that is most appropriate to the subjects displayed.
Alternate measures of diversity will be considered if the maximum length of exhibits in the show constrains how many species can be displayed.
Showing variety with a species also matters. This includes presenting dorsal and ventral views, exterior and interior with bivalves and chitons, and variation in color, pattern, size, and shape.
Variety should be presented thematically: A single specimen with periostracum doesn't add as much as showing a number of species with and without periostracum.
Juvenile shells can be displayed, but generally should be dead-collected unless they are by-products of a fishery or a collecting technique such as dredging that does not allow one to avoid taking live juveniles.
Completeness also counts. A more complete exhibit is one that shows a greater range of taxonomic, morphological, and ecological diversity.
Labels and Text (25 points)
All errors in text, whether they are on backboards or specimen labels, will result in a deduction of points for the exhibit score. Each different mistake will result in the loss of at least one point. The judges will use a scale of one point for minor mistakes and two for major mistakes.
Major infractions include misidentifications and impossible locality data. Misidentification includes switched or missing labels or captions, outdated name (synonym or wrong genus), label not clearly associated with the specimen, consistent misspelling of a name, and, incorrect or missing author or date.
Minor infractions include capitalizing the specific name, incorrect use of parenthesis, omitting a comma between the author and the date, failing to set off species names (italics, bold or underlining), and, typographical errors.
Judges may consider the overall adequacy of locality data for specimens, particularly in self-collected exhibits.
Educational Value (Clarity: 10 points) (Scientific Accuracy: 10 points) (Interest/Originality: 5 points)
Clarity, accuracy and interest are the essential ingredients of educational value.
Clarity consists of focus, organization and integration.
Scientific accuracy consists of even-handedness, completeness and precision.
Interest combines informativeness, originality and memorability.
Illustrations can enhance any exhibit. These can be diagrams showing parts of a shell, distribution maps, or pictures of live animals or habitats.
Single Shell Entries (Specimen: 80 points) (Display: 20 points)
Single shell specimen judging is based on two things, the quality of the shell and how it is displayed.
The quality of the specimen is important but the rarity of the shell is also considered. A rare shell will be given more points than a more common shell.