I've been taking my students to a university science fair for years now. Every year my students struggle with the university's research plan requirements that are quite rigorous. When I began to require students to present their research plans to the class, I eliminated so much stress and extra work because now they get approved on the first round!
I've created a rubric that does not evaluate their oral presentation skills, but helps them truly understand what is expected of them to be approved for the fair.
Categories include: rationale, research question, hypothesis, procedures, risk and safety, data analysis, and bibliography. Students carefully following this rubric will be approved for the fair the first time and be less likely to suffer the disappointment of being told to go back to the drawing board, or worse, be denied entry into competition.