Science Fair Common Problems and How to Avoid Them

(Or How to Not Get Disqualified)

Every student in the Junior or Senior Fair must complete an Official Entry Form, a Research Plan (completed before experimentation) and an Abstract (completed after experimentation).

Senior Fair participants must, in addition, complete the ISEF-approved Checklist for Adult Sponsor (1), Student Checklist (1A), and Approval Form (1B). Any additional approval forms which may be required based on the experimental plan (see Scientific Review Below) must also be completely filled out and signed.

Display & Safety

Who took this picture?

Photographs and/or visual depictions are allowed at your project. However, credit lines must be attached. ("Photograph taken by...", "Image taken from...", etc.) If all photographs being displayed were taken by the Finalist or are from the same source, one credit line prominently displayed is sufficient.

A picture is worth a thousand words!

Living organisms, including plants, cannot be displayed at the fair. Nor can any preserved materials, chemicals of any sort (no, not even water), sharp items, foods, or flammable items. Leave your experiment at home: add photographs to your board instead.

No advertising or sponsorship—not even your school!

“Awards, medals, business cards, flags, endorsements and/or acknowledgments (graphic or written)” are not allowed at the project. [Note: this includes school logos, etc.] (Exception: Intel ISEF medal(s) may be worn at all times.)

Scientific Review

It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt …

If your project involves human subjects, vertebrate animals, hazardous substances, or biological agents of any type, you must have your research plan reviewed and approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) of qualified experts before experimentation begins. If your project involves human subjects, this IRB approval is all you need. If your project involves vertebrate animals, hazardous substances, or biological agents of any type, you MUST have PRE-APPROVAL from the SUSEF Scientific Review Committee (SRC). Certain types of projects are prohibited altogether, so read the rules carefully!

Check ISEF Rules for additional Scientific Review information.

Does your mother know about this?

We must have all signatures in place, including any approval forms and parent/guardian permission signatures.

Ready, Set, Go!