EISEF definitions of words and abbreviations

Adult Roles

Students aren't permitted to experiment alone—they must have adult supervision. In some cases, several different adults (or groups of them) must supervise a student’s science fair project. These are the different Adult Roles; each has its own entry in this glossary.

For a complete discussion of Adult Roles in a science fair project, see Roles and Responsibilities of Students & Adults on the ISEF web site.

Adult Sponsor

An Adult Role in the student’s project. 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.

Designated Supervisor

An Adult Role in the student’s project. 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.

Qualified Scientist

An Adult Role in the student’s project. 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 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.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

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:

  1. a science teacher
  2. a school administrator (preferably a principal or vice principal)
  3. someone knowledgeable and capable of evaluating the physical and/or psychological risk involved in a given study:
    • medical doctor
    • physician’s assistant
    • registered nurse
    • psychiatrist
    • psychologist
    • licensed social worker

The Adult Sponsor, Qualified Scientist, and Designated Supervisor cannot serve on the school IRB for their student’s project.

Scientific Review Committee (SRC)

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:

  1. a biomedical scientist (Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., or D.O.)
  2. a science teacher
  3. at least one other member

The Adult Sponsor, Qualified Scientist, and Designated Supervisor cannot serve on the SRC for their student’s project.


A grouping of exhibits by age group, project type, and research category. The exhibits in a division are judged against each other for EISEF's own awards. The divisions are:

  • 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.

Age Group (Senior vs Junior)

  • Seniors, for students in 9th through 12th grade. Senior Champions will receive a trip to the ISEF in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Juniors, for students in 6th through 8th grade.

Project Type (individual vs. team)

  • 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. All the team members must be in the same age group (senior vs. junior).

Research Category (biological vs. physical)

For 2018, ISEF has 17 research categories (see the ISEF Category Descriptions). EISEF combines these into just two, Biological Science and Physical Science. Here’s how the categories line up between EISEF and ISEF:

EISEF’s biological science category covers these ISEF categories:

  • animal sciences
  • behavioral and social sciences
  • biochemistry
  • cellular and molecular biology
  • environmental management
  • environmental sciences
  • medicine & health sciences
  • microbiology
  • plant sciences

EISEF’s physical science category covers these ISEF categories:

  • chemistry
  • computer science
  • earth & planetary science
  • energy & transportation
  • engineering: electrical & mechanical
  • engineering: materials and bioengineering
  • mathematical sciences
  • physics and astronomy

Entry & Registration


A student enters a project in the Fair by filling out the Student Entry Form, clicking the Submit button to submit the data, and mailing the signed project paperwork to EISEF. This lets us know that the student is coming to the Fair.


The student registers at the Student Registration table on Fair Day morning 8:00 AM–8:55 AM. Here they tell us that they’ve arrived, and we tell them where to set up the exhibit.

Entry Status

After we receive a project entry, we post the student’s name and the project information on the Status of Student Entries page. The page also shows the status of the entry:

  • Pending: We received the student’s online entry; now we’re waiting to receive the entry’s signed paperwork. Once we receive the paperwork, we’ll the change the entry’s status to Accepted.
  • Accepted: Everything about the entry is in order; we’ll be ready for the student at Student Registration in Lindale Mall at 8:00 AM on March 17, 2018.
  • Disqualified: The student broke the rules and won’t be permitted to register or exhibit at the Fair.
  • Dropped: The student submitted the entry, then decided not to attend this year’s EISEF.

Science Fairs

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)

ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition; each year it provides a forum for more than 1,500 high school students from over 50 countries to showcase their independent research. The Intel ISEF is the premiere science competition in the world for students in grades 9–12. EISEF is affiliated with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), an activity of the Society for Science & the Public (SSP). EISEF’s ID is USIA01. For more information, follow one of these ISEF Web links:

This year’s ISEF is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 13–18, 2018.

Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair (EISEF)

EISEF is an ISEF-affiliated regional science fair that takes place each year in March, usually on the third Saturday, in Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Students from anywhere in eastern Iowa are eligible to exhibit here. This year's Fair is scheduled for Saturday, March 17, 2018.


EISEF’s Director takes care of the fair from a this-year-only perspective. He fills out paperwork to ISEF for this year’s fair, answers teacher questions, sets goals, and so on. He’s the point of contact for ISEF, the national sponsored awards, and EISEF. He’s concerned with the fair as a specific activity.


EISEF’s President runs the fair as a generic organization. The president could be running almost any sort of event: a science fair, an art fair, a spelling bee, etc. No matter what the purpose of the group is, it still needs funding (for this year and next year and years to come), members, participants, publicity, organization, etc. The president keeps track of each of our committees, guides the discussions during our meetings, and answers some questions related to the organization. But the president refers questions specific to this year's fair to the Director.

State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa (SSTFI)

Iowa’s ISEF-affiliated state science fair. It takes place in Ames, Iowa, on the Iowa State University (ISU) campus, usually the last Friday and Saturday of March. This year’s SSTFI is March 22–23, 2018. For more information visit the SSTFI web site.

Western Iowa Science and Engineering Fair (WISEF)

The ISEF-affiliated regional fair that covers the schools and students in Iowa west of EISEF’s territory. It takes place in Sheldon; this year’s WISEF is scheduled for March 12, 2016. For more information, read the 2010 WISEF Fair Guidebook (on the SSTFI website) or visit the ISEF Affiliated Fairs page.


EISEF Class Awards

On the morning of Fair Day, judges will interview all the students so we can rank their exhibits. In each division, EISEF presents the following awards:

  • Class I, to the best 10% of the exhibits. These students each receive a cash prize and a blue ribbon with a medallion.
  • Class II, to the next 10%. These students each receive a red ribbon with a medallion.
  • Honorable Mention, to the next 10%. These students each receive a white ribbon with a medallion.

We select the best Junior exhibits as Junior Champions.

During the afternoon, we re-interview our top seniors to select our Senior Champions, who will represent us at the ISEF in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Sponsored Awards

In parallel to the judging for the EISEF awards, many other organizations—scientific, engineering, or educational—will also interview students to find ones who merit their own Sponsored Awards. The Sponsoring Organizations provide awards directly to individual students in the form of cash, certificates, or other non-monetary recognition. Past sponsors have included:

  • colleges and universities
  • non-profit academic and professional groups
  • companies and government agencies
  • individuals who want to inspire excellence among eastern Iowa’s students

Last year’s Award Sponsors

The Award Sponsor determines the criteria for presenting the award: which students should receive the award, and what they should do to merit it. The page For Award Sponsors describes how to sponsor an award.

V. O. Hasek

The legendary founder of EISEF. The EISEF senior champions each receive a plaque for their school bearing this person’s name.

Categories: About EISEF

Page last modified on April 07, 2017, at 03:38 AM

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