- Rules and Procedures for Student Projects at EISEF
- How to read the rules (and start your experiment)
- Who is eligible?
- Adult Roles
- Your local SRC/IRB
- How EISEF classifies exhibits
- Forms, Certificates, and Approvals
- Forms and Certificates on Fair Day
- Continuation of Projects
- Student Entries
- Example Display and Safety Rules
- Fair-Day Schedule for Students
- Judging for EISEF Awards
- Liability Disclaimer
To enter the Fair you should first read this page from beginning to end. If you are in grades 9–12 you must also submit several Certificates and other Forms. You must fill out these additional Certificates and get them approved before you start the experimental phase of you project. (It's all right if you do advance research.) Please read all that follows to see how you can do this….
Purpose: The purpose of a science fair is to provide an opportunity for students with an interest in science or engineering to engage in a competition which will help them focus on the scientific process and reward them for competent effort.
In the following, the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair is called EISEF or the Fair. The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is called ISEF.
The EISEF is affiliated with ISEF, so we use the ISEF Rules and then amend those with EISEF Rules and Procedures.
- Read these rules through to the end. Don’t get sidetracked.
- Determine the topic of your experiment and research that topic. Write down all sources of all research (documents and people) you use for later use in your Bibliography. See the Project Resources page.
- Read these EISEF Rules looking for all rules that apply.
- Read the Intel ISEF rules. Even if you read them thoroughly last year, review them again, because they change every year.
- Read about preparing for the Science Fair: Intel ISEF Student Handbook, EISEF’s Abbreviated Guide for Experiments and Exhibits.
- Determine what your experiment Plan and Procedure will be.
- Senior students (grades 9–12): use the Forms Guide to get the Forms you need to fill out and submit for your exhibit. (Big hint: use the ISEF Rules Wizard.) Junior students (grades 6–8): Use the Forms Guide if your Adult Sponsor tells you to.
- Make copies of all the Forms you need. With your Adult Sponsor, talk about what information you will put on the Forms and the signatures you will need for them.
- Go through the Checklist for Adult Sponsor (1) with your Adult Sponsor and fill it out.
- Submit all your Forms to an SRC or IRB for approval, if required. (See Forms requirements on the Forms Guide.)
- Once you complete all the previous steps you can now start your experiment.
- When your experiment nears completion, write an outline for the Abstract that will briefly describe your experiment.
- Juniors and Seniors: Fill out the on-line Student Entry Form, submit it, print all sheets of the signature page, sign it, and get it signed by your Adult Sponsor. Do this by the entry deadline: February 27, 2017.
- Send your signed paperwork to EISEF.
- These are the parts of the paperwork:
- All sheets of your signed Student Entry Form signature page.
- An Abstract (for Seniors). (Note: ISEF official abstract forms are not required.)
- All forms and certificates that are required for your experiment.
- How to send us the paperwork. Choose one of these methods:
- Send copies by US mail this address:
EISEF Safety & Standards Committee
PO Box 10862
Cedar Rapids, IA 52410–0862
- Send PDF attachments (as described here) to this e-mail address:
- Send copies by US mail this address:
- These are the parts of the paperwork:
- Prepare your Exhibit to display at the Fair. (See the Display & Safety Rules section and the Abbreviated Guide for Exhibits page.)
- We’ll contact you or your Adult Sponsor if we have questions about your Forms and Certificates.
- Our Status Of Student Entries page will list your entry (as "Pending") a day or two after you submit it. When we receive your signed paperwork, we’ll update your status to “Accepted”—we’re all set for you to arrive on Fair Day and register. You can check the page to see that all is well with your project and your friends’.
- On Fair Day (March 18, 2017) come to the Registration table and find out where your exhibit should be set up. The When and Where page tells you how to get to Lindale Mall and the Registration table.
- Fair Day begins. See the Schedule for Fair Day to find out when things should happen.
To take part in the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair you must:
- Be in grades 6 through 12.
- Attend public, private, or home school in Eastern Iowa. The Schools in EISEF page has details.
- Be younger than 21 years old on May 1, 2017.
Students aren’t permitted to experiment alone—they must have adult supervision. In some cases, several different adults must supervise a student’s science fair project. The titles listed below are the roles adults play in a student’s project. Every project must have an Adult Sponsor; depending on what the student is researching, it may also need a Qualified Scientist or a Designated Supervisor. The Adult Sponsor, Qualified Scientist, and Designated Supervisor cannot serve on the SRC or the school IRB for their student’s project.
This list is a brief summary of Roles and Responsibilities of Students & Adults on the ISEF web site.
Every student project must have an Adult Sponsor. An Adult Sponsor may be a teacher, parent, university professor, or scientist in whose lab the student is working. This individual must have a solid scientific background and should have close contact with the student during the course of the project. The Adult Sponsor is ultimately responsible not only for the health and safety of the student conducting the research, but also for the humans or animals used as subjects. The Adult Sponsor is responsible for ensuring the student’s research is eligible for entry in EISEF.
The Qualified Scientist should have an earned doctoral or professional degree in the biological or medical sciences as it relates to the student’s area of research. A master’s degree with equivalent experience and/or expertise in the student’s area of research is acceptable when approved by an SRC. The Adult Sponsor, if qualified, may act as the Qualified Scientist. A student may work with a Qualified Scientist in another city or state, but must work locally with a Designated Supervisor who has been trained in the techniques the student will use.
The Designated Supervisor is an adult who is directly responsible for overseeing student experimentation. The Designated Supervisor need not have an advanced degree, but should be trained in the student’s area of research. The Adult Sponsor may act as the Designated Supervisor.
If a student is experimenting with live vertebrates and the animals are in a situation where their behavior or habitat is influenced by humans, the Designated Supervisor must be knowledgeable about the humane care and handling of the animals.
A committee within a school’s district that approves projects needing special approvals. In some cases, students need to get SRC approval before doing any experimentation. The SRC must include:
- a biomedical scientist (Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., or D.O.)
- a science teacher
- at least one other member
The Adult Sponsor, Qualified Scientist, and Designated Supervisor cannot serve on the SRC for their student’s project.
A committee within each school that approves the safety of projects with human subjects. Students must get their IRB’s approval before starting any experiment (including surveys) on humans. The IRB must include:
- a science teacher
- a school administrator (preferably a principal or vice principal)
- someone knowledgeable and capable of evaluating the physical and/or psychological risk involved in a given study:
- medical doctor
- physician’s assistant
- registered nurse
- licensed social worker
The Adult Sponsor, Qualified Scientist, and Designated Supervisor cannot serve on the school IRB for their student’s project.
The ISEF FAQ says: "Can one committee serve as both an SRC and IRB? Yes, if your committee includes a biomedical scientist, science teacher, school administrator and someone knowledgeable and capable of evaluating physical and/or psychological risk involved in a study involving human subjects."
Your project may need an SRC or IRB to review and approve it before you start your experiment. (The Forms Guide tells you who must review and sign them. The ISEF Rules Wizard will tell you which forms your project requires.) Your school should establish an SRC or IRB, if needed, so there are people near you who can review and approve your project. Contact the EISEF Safety & Standards Committee listed below for help in establishing such a committee or board.
If you can’t establish an IRB or SRC at your local school, your adult sponsor, teacher, or school should contact the EISEF Safety & Standards Committee for help in reviewing and approving your project before you start your experiment.
For full information on SRCs and IRBs see the SRC/IRB Guidelines on the ISEF web site.
EISEF needs a list of the members of your school’s SRC/IRB, their qualifications, and their contact information. Fill out the SRC & IRB form on this web site, print it, and mail it to the EISEF Safety & Standards Committee.
If you or your school’s IRB or SRC needs assistance in interpreting EISEF or ISEF Rules, or needs advice for a ruling, call EISEF’s Safety & Standards Committee, the Society for Science & the Public (SSP), or ISEF SRC.
Also, the ISEF SRC has made available an SRC 101 PowerPoint presentation that can be a tool in giving workshops on the Rules and Guidelines. Share with your IRB and SRC members, teachers, and any others interested in an overview of the International Rules. (Note: MS PowerPoint needs to be installed on your machine to view this.)
|Phone:||(Leave evening number for return contact)
|U.S. mail:||Safety & Standards Committee |
Eastern Iowa Science & Engineering Fair
PO Box 10862
Cedar Rapids, IA 52410–0862
- Seniors, for students in 9th through 12th grade. Senior Champions will receive a trip to the ISEF in Los Angeles, California.
- Juniors, for students in 6th through 8th grade.
- Individuals: A single student does the experiment and exhibits the results at the Fair.
- Teams: Two or three students cooperate to do the experiment and exhibit the results at the Fair.
Team projects have special rules:
- Your team must have two or three members. It must never have more than three members. After you start your team project, you cannot add any new members, even to replace someone who leaves. You cannot turn a team project into an individual project. You may continue your project with two original members if the third member leaves.
- You should select a team leader to coordinate your work and act as spokesperson. However, each of you should:
- Be fully involved in the project.
- Know and understand what the other team members are doing.
- Be able to talk knowledgeably about the project.
- You must all work together to finish your experiment and prepare your exhibit. The judges will evaluate your work the same way as the individual exhibits, except that they will also evaluate you on your Teamwork. See the Judging section of this web page for more information about this.
- Your exhibit must describe what each of you did during the experiment and preparation of the exhibit. And you must put all your names on the forms.
For 2017, ISEF has 17 research categories (see the ISEF Category Descriptions). EISEF combines these into just two, Biological and Physical. Here’s how the categories line up between EISEF and ISEF:
|EISEF Category: Biological science||EISEF Category: Physical science|
|Matching ISEF Categories:
||Matching ISEF Categories:
EISEF combines the age groups, project types, and research categories in different ways to make five divisions:
- Senior biological. Individual and team exhibits.
- Senior physical. Individual and team exhibits.
- Junior biological. Individual exhibits only.
- Junior physical. Individual exhibits only.
- Junior teams. Team exhibits only; they can be either biological or physical science.
For EISEF’s own awards, we will judge your exhibit only against the other exhibits in your division (except for Senior Champions—for them, our Finalist Judges will pick the best senior exhibits regardless of category).
|Age Groups||Research Categories||Project Types|
|Individual Project||Team Project|
|Juniors (grades 6–8)||Biological science||Junior Biological Division||Junior Teams Division|
|Physical science||Junior Physical Division|
|Seniors (grades 9–12)||Biological science||Senior Biological Division|
|Physical science||Senior Physical Division|
EISEF has easier certificate requirements for Junior (grades 6–8) projects than for Seniors. The single statement on the EISEF Entry Form along with the Adult Sponsor signature is all that we require. Your teacher or adult sponsor will decide which other certificates you must fill out and submit with your EISEF Student Entry Form. They may have you fill out the same certificates as if you were a senior student (we encourage this); or they may decide to use the certification statement on the Student Entry Signature page instead. They will also decide when you must fill out your certificates: we encourage you to do this before you begin your experiment, like the senior students, but your teacher may decide to let you do it later. Junior Division entries do not need to submit an Abstract.
Every Senior project (grades 9–12) must complete a Basic set of the appropriate Forms; you can find them on the Forms Guide. Here are the basic Forms, required of all senior projects, and when you must fill them out:
- Checklist for Adult Sponsor (1) before experimentation begins
- Student Checklist (1A) before experimentation begins
- Approval Form (1B) before experimentation begins.
- Abstract before mailing the Entry Form (see below)
Most projects require additional Forms and approvals. If your experiment involves certain topics, materials or processes, before you start you must get approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Scientific Review Committee (SRC). Your Research Plan (part of the Student Checklist) form tells you which approvals you need.
Examples of topics, materials or processes that require additional forms:
- human subjects
- all studies involving more than a minimal risk in human subjects
- nonhuman vertebrate animals
- human/animal tissue
- pathogenic agents
- controlled substances
- hazardous substances or devices
Many complex experiments must have a Qualified Scientist if they deal in any of the areas listed above.
If you conduct any of your work in an institutional or industrial setting, you must complete the Registered Research Institutional/Industrial Setting Form (1C).
You will be disqualified if you do not have the proper Checklist, Research Plan and Certificates, as required for ISEF, completed, signed and approved (if necessary) by the local SRC/IRB before you begin your experiment. Read the Intel ISEF rules. You must fill out and submit the Certificates that ISEF requires; see the Forms Guide for details.
When you send your entry to EISEF, you must include one signed copy of each Form or Certificate required for your type of experiment for the EISEF Scientific Review Committee to review. If you use US mail, send copies only — keep the originals, and bring them with you to the Fair. Never send the originals.
If during experimentation you want to change your experiment, you must change your Research Plan (1A), and you must get it re-approved before you implement the desired changes and resume the experiment.
The Senior project Forms must include an Abstract which summarizes this year’s work. You must submit it with your Entry Form. No specific form is required. It must describe the research you did, not what your Adult Sponsor did.
If we select you to represent EISEF at the International Fair, you’ll have to prepare a 250-word, one-page abstract (with specific content on an approved Intel ISEF Form) that summarizes this year’s work.
Your exhibit should display a project data book and a research paper, but we don’t require it.
You must have all the originals of your required Forms and Certificates at your exhibit during the Fair and show them to Fair officials so we can review them and sign them as needed. We recommend you keep these in a notebook or folder.
You will be judged only on the research you’ve done during the past year. Your display boards must reflect only the work you’ve done in the past year. However, you may exhibit on your table the supporting data books (not research papers) from earlier related research, provided you properly label them as such. If your project this year is a continuation, you much must document the new and different research you did: for example, testing a new variable or following a new line of investigation. It’s unacceptable to simply repeat the earlier experiment or change the sample size.
For Continuation Projects your documentation must include the prior year’s abstract and Research Plan (1A) including the response to #9. Attach those copies behind the current year’s Research Plan (1A) and Forms. Clearly label each page of the old certificates and worksheets in the upper right hand corner with the years (example: 2009–2010).
Any continuing project must document new and different research. See the Intel ISEF rules for more details.
In the same way, if you are continuing work from a previous year, the IRB/SRC must review the Certificates from your earlier work and approve the continuing work. All Forms you submitted and got approved in the prior years that involve the continuing experimentation must also be marked with the dates of the prior year and be submitted with this year’s paperwork when you mail your entry paperwork to EISEF.
Each student may enter only one project that covers research done over a maximum and continuous 12 month period between January of the prior year through May of the current Fair year. All work performed on a project must be that of the student.
A project must be entered as a team project if more than one student worked on the project or experiment at any time. Team projects may have a maximum of three students.
When you arrive at EISEF on Fair Day and set up your exhibit, our Safety and Standards Committee will examine your exhibit to ensure that it conforms to our rules for display size, safety, and proper Certifications. If it does not conform when you arrive, you will have to change it so it does conform, or we disqualify you, and you will have to leave. After the Safety and Standards Committee and the Scientific Review Committee approve your exhibit, you must not change it in any way.
If we select you to go to the Intel ISEF, you will have to make sure your exhibit conforms to the ISEF regulations.
You may also enter the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa in Ames, since it has State Fair status. EISEF is a Regional Fair.
You must stay at the EISEF through the awards ceremony to receive any awards that you win. If you ask in advance—the earlier the better—we will consider making an exception for you.
To enter an exhibit in the Fair, you must fill out the on-line EISEF Student Entry Form. Fill it out, print the Signature Page and sign it, and mail a copy (not the original) to the EISEF address shown on the Signature Page.
The deadline for sending entries (by US mail or e-mail) is approximately three weeks before the Fair. For the 2017 Fair, entries should be postmarked no later than February 27, 2017.
If you are late with your entry, we may still permit it. Do the following:
- As soon as you can, contact the Safety & Standards Committee at the phone number listed on the Contacts page to find out whether we will permit your late entry.
- When you call, have the following information ready:
- Your name(s)
- Your grade in school
- The project’s research category
- The project’s title
- Whether you have the mandatory documents (for details see the Forms Guide)
- Why you are entering late
- Your evening phone number (in case we have to leave you a message)
- If we permit your entry, immediately fill out the on-line EISEF Student Entry Form, submit it, and print all the sheets. Then mail or e-mail copies of your Signature Page, including all the required signatures, Certificates and other Forms, to one of the addresses at the bottom of the Signature Page.
Junior Exhibits: For you the ISEF Rules are guidelines, which you should follow wherever you can. At the Fair, the EISEF Safety & Standards Committee will decide whether your exhibit just bends the ISEF display rules (acceptable) or breaks them (unacceptable). If you have questions about what we will accept, visit the EISEF Display Rules or contact the EISEF Safety & Standards Committee in advance for a preliminary ruling.
Senior Exhibits: Your exhibit at EISEF must comply with ISEF’s rules in nearly all respects. If we select you as a Champion and send you to the ISEF in Los Angeles, California, you will have to change your exhibit to make it fully compliant with ISEF’s rules before you set it up there. If you follow ISEF’s rules from the start, your exhibit will be acceptable at EISEF and ISEF too, without change.
Animal & Human Tissue Experiments: You must not display animals, animal parts or human tissue at the fair. With few exceptions only photos of the experiment are allowed. Only photos which show animals under normal conditions can be on public display. You can keep other photos (for example, of restrained animals) in books at your exhibit; you may show them only to people who ask to see them.
Size: Your exhibit can be no larger than 30 inches front to back, by 4 feet side to side, by 9 feet high (floor to the top). It can sit on the floor or on a table up to 36 inches tall, which we will provide. All oversized exhibits are prohibited without special permission from the EISEF Safety & Standards Committee.
Construction: All construction must be safe and durable. We will inspect all exhibits for potential hazards. If we determine your exhibit is unsafe, we may require you to change or remove it. The exhibit must be sturdy enough to stand on its own and not be unstable. You must assume there will be ventilation drafts and that your exhibit table will be bumped during the Fair. Final authority rests with the Safety & Standards Committee.
Electrical Power: All switches and cords must be rated for up to 125 volts AC and 500 watts and must be UL-approved. If your exhibit needs electricity, you must say so on your Student Entry Form. We will provide a single grounded outlet for your use; it may be up to nine feet from the exhibit—make sure you bring an extension cord long enough to reach the outlet. The exhibit must not consume more than 500 watts unless you get permission from the Fair Director. If you are chosen to represent EISEF at the International Fair, you will have to comply with ISEF’s power requirements.
Some good Exhibit guidelines for Fair Day:
- Don’t display anything at your exhibit which could injure a small child.
- Don’t display anything that could be easily damaged or could hurt someone who touches it.
- Read the Intel ISEF rules before you plan your display.
- If anything could be dangerous, you must make it safe!
- Juniors: Don’t display food of any type unless it is covered—use photos instead.
- Juniors: Some things you may show to judges, but you must put them away after judging. Try to use photos instead.
If your experiment or exhibit does not conform to the rules, we may be forced to disqualify you. Any exhibit may be disqualified for violating a rule. Our goal is to help you participate in the science fair. To do so, we need you to comply with the rules.
If you change your exhibit on Fair Day after the Safety & Standards Committee has inspected and approved it, we may disqualify you. If you change your exhibit, it is your responsibility to tell the Safety & Standards Committee that it needs re-inspection.
Up to two Senior exhibits will win a trip to the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, California for themselves and their adult sponsors. EISEF itself presents cash, medallions, and trophies to many student exhibitors. Other national and local organizations also present awards at the Fair. Last Year’s Awards page lists all the awards we presented at the last year’s Fair; it will give you an idea about what we will present this year.
The Fair Board reserves the right to withhold an award if no exhibit qualifies and to give duplicate awards in the event of a tie.
Mall Entry: You can bring your exhibit into the mall through any public entrance. If your exhibit is heavy or hard to move, we suggest that you first come in, register, and find out where you will set it up; then you can bring your exhibit in through the closest entrance. We will post signs throughout the mall to direct you to registration.
Set-Up Time: Registration and set-up will start at 8:00 AM. All exhibits must be set up in the exhibit area by 8:55 AM. If you will need to arrive late, or need more time to set up your exhibit, you should contact the Fair Director or Safety & Standards (see the Contact Us page) before the Fair to make special arrangements.
Parking: You can park near the mall entrances for loading and unloading. By 10:00 AM you should move your vehicle at least 200 feet away. Mall businesses open at 10:00 AM and some stay open until 9:00 PM; please be considerate of the mall’s customers.
Student Meeting: A 15-minute meeting for students will be held at 9:00 AM to go over orientation and rules reminders. All students must attend. We will announce the meeting’s location on Fair day.
Judging Interviews: By 9:30 AM you should be at your exhibit for judging interviews. Judges for EISEF Awards will start coming to evaluate your exhibit at 9:30 AM and will continue until about 1:00 PM. You should plan to stay at your exhibit continuously between 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM. Judging for Sponsored Awards also starts at 9:30 AM and may continue until 2:00 PM.
Afternoon Viewing: After lunch you should be at your exhibit at least half of the time between 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM, for Sponsored Awards judging and viewing by the public.
Finalist Interviews: At about 1:00 PM we will post the Class I Finalists in the Senior Divisions, along with their interview times. If you are one of these students, congratulations! Now our Finalist Judges will interview you, to see whether you will represent EISEF at the International Fair in Los Angeles, California. You need to be at your exhibit about 15 minutes before your interview; a Fair official will come escort you to the interview. The interviews will start at about 2:30 PM and run until almost 5:00 PM.
Early Departure: You must not dismantle your exhibit before 5:00 PM without special permission. You must dismantle it between between then and 6:00 PM. If you can’t remove the pieces of your exhibit from the mall until after the awards ceremony, we will provide a place where you can store them. The awards ceremony should end by 8:30 PM. After that, you will need to remove your exhibit from the mall before the mall closes at 9:00 PM.
Awards Ceremony: The awards ceremony will begin at about 7:00 PM and should end by 8:30 PM. The location will be posted on Fair Day. Decisions of the judges shall be final.
We also have a complete schedule for the day.
In evaluating your exhibit, judges will consider how well you did in the following areas:
Creative Ability (30 points): Does your work show an original approach or handling? The originality may appear in the problem you chose, your procedures, how you designed the apparatus or model, or how you interpreted your data.
Scientific Method or Engineering Goals (30 points): Does your exhibit show organized procedures, a plan, accurate observations, experimental control? Do you present the facts and theories accurately? Did you do a background study? Do you understand the material being presented? (A simple kit or model probably won’t earn you many points unless you used it as just part of an experiment.)
Skill (15 points): Is your exhibit well built? Under normal conditions, is it likely the exhibit will last? How skilled is the preparation, mounting, or other treatments involved in the exhibit?
Documentation & Understanding (15 points): Does your project completely cover the problem? Did you take enough data to support your conclusion? How complete and adequate are your notes? Do you cite scientific literature?
Presentation & Display (10 points): Is your exhibit arranged so that it guides people through your project in a logical manner? Does it present your data and results clearly? Are the guide marks, labels, and descriptions neat and brief?
Teamwork (Team exhibits only) (15 points): Did everyone on your team contribute to the project? Did each of you do part of the experiment and prepare part of the exhibit? Can each of you talk about the experiment/exhibit by yourself? Do you present the exhibit to the judge as a team, with one of you talking while the others point out what's being described?
|Total possible points:|
Judging: Judges evaluate:
- How well you followed the scientific method or your engineering research plan
- The detail and accuracy of your research data book
- Whether you used your tools and equipment in the best possible way
Judges look for well thought-out research. They look at how significant your project is in its field, as well as how thorough you were. Did you leave something out? Did you start with four experiments and finish only three?
Judges applaud those students who can speak freely and confidently about their work. They are not interested in memorized speeches—they simply want to talk with you about your research to see if you have a good grasp of your project from start to finish. Besides asking the obvious questions, judges often ask questions to test your insight into your projects such as "What didn’t you do?" and "What would be your next step?"
The cost or complexity of the equipment you use will not affect your score. Take a look at the photos of our champions at their exhibits; notice how simple some of their displays are. They won because they ran good experiments, collected convincing data, and presented the data and themselves well. You can too!
Neither the Eastern Iowa Science & Engineering Fair Inc., nor Lindale Mall nor any of its merchants nor any cooperating group assumes any responsibility for the loss or damage to any exhibit or part thereof, or for personal injury resulting from the display of exhibits at the time and place designated as The Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair. (StudentsAndTeachers)