The following CSRA Science and Engineering Fair rules are based on rules set forth by the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and Federal Regulations. All students, teachers and parents should be familiar with the rules stated in this handbook. Compliance to these rules are encouraged for the intermediate and junior divisions for the local fairs.  Compliance is mandatory for the senior division for the local fairs and by all divisions for participation in the Regional Fairs. Copies of the extended rules are available at $1.25/copy from: Science Services, Inc., 1719 N. Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20036.

Click here to download a complete set of the rules and forms

2004 Rules and Guidelines

Understanding the International Rules and Guidelines and properly completing all of the paperwork is a necessary and important part of completing your science fair project.

The following index links to a full-text version of the 2004 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) Rules and Regulations, including forms. You can also download a printable Adobe Acrobat* PDF file from the Document Library link on the left.

We also encourage you to use the Intel ISEF Rules Wizard to be sure you are on the right track. This "wizard" asks a series of questions about your planned project and will provide a list of forms that you need to complete.

Rules Index

Eligibility - Requirements - Limitations

Quick Rules Reference

Adults Involved in a Science Project

Intel ISEF Scientific Review Committee

Intel ISEF Category Descriptions

HIGHLIGHTS for 2003 - May 2004

Display and Safety Regulations

Human and Animal Tissue

Human Subjects

Controlled Substances

Hazardous Substances or Devices

Nonhuman Vertebrate Animals

Pathogenic Agents

Recombinant DNA (rDNA)


Human Subjects

Human tissue studies where the tissue samples can be identified with a specific person must have IRB review and informed
consent. Students using their own tissues are exempt from this requirement.
SRC pre-approval is required for all tissue projects, but the final SRC signature is no longer required on Human and Non-Human
Vertebrate Animal Tissue Form (6).

Reorganization and rewrite of the section to include Rules, Risk Evaluation, Informed Consent, and Review Process. Please review
Human Subjects Form (4) replaces Human Subjects Form (4A) and Informed Consent (4B).

On Human Subjects Form (4), the IRB will make a risk determination of one of the following risk levels:
[ ] Minimal risk where informed consent is recommended, but not required.
[ ] Minimal risk where informed consent is REQUIRED.
[ ] More than minimal risk where informed consent & a Qualfied Scientist are REQUIRED.
(Projects with unacceptable risks must be revised and re-submitted before the IRB will sign the Human Subjects Form (4).)
A statement, "Must be completed before experimentation" has been added to the signature lines for which this applies to help
students, adult supervisors, and others related with the project understand the timing of the necessary approvals.
Research Plan 1A has been modified
to allow students to enter a Projected Start Date for experimentation for the initial submission
of their paperwork and an Actual Start Date for any difference in timeline that may occur.
Clarification and expansion of IRB committee members
knowledgeable and capable of evaluating the physical and/or psychological
risk involved in a given study: a medical doctor, physician's assistant, registered nurse, a psychiatrist, a licensed psychologist, or
licensed social worker.
New Source of Information

The Mad Scientist Network at Washington University School of Medicine: This website is an interactive
science teaching and community outreach tool, staffed and maintained by volunteer scientists and engineers from around the world.
The MadSci Network fields questions in 26 different subjects, convering topics in astronomy, the biological sciences, chemistry,
computer science, earth sciences, engineering, and physics.



  • At the Regional Fair, each exhibit will be examined by the Rules and Safety Committee to ensure that it conforms to these rules for display size, safety, and prohibited items. The decisions of the Rules and Safety Committee are final. In the event the Rules and Safety Committee members are not available, the Fair Director's decisions are final.
  • Senior Division projects that do not meet Intel ISEF rules will not qualify for the CSRA Regional Fair, but will be admitted for display only.
  • Intermediate Division (grades 4-5) are encouraged and the Junior Division (grades 6-8) projects are strongly encouraged to meet the Intel ISEF rules. All rules concerning safety, animals, humans, and exhibit displays apply to all projects. Any questions should be submitted to the Rules Committee.
  • Each student or team may enter only one science fair project. It must be his or her own work. Each team must do its own work.
  • Each project must include a display, log book, required forms, abstract, and a formal report. To be eligible at the Regional Fair, all required forms (where applicable) must be on the table as part of the exhibit for review by the Rules Committee and/or judges.
  • For the Senior Division only, each student is to assemble his or her own exhibit. Assistance is limited to unpacking or packing, or to situations where physical weight or size requires help. Students will stand at their projects during the judging period to answer any questions from the judges.
  • Research involving animals may display drawings, charts, or graphs to illustrate the conditions, developments, and results of investigations. Sealed insect collections will be permitted on display. Photographs and other visual presentations of surgical techniques depicting vertebrate animals in other than normal conditions may not be displayed, but may be contained in an accompanying notebook to be shown only during judging. Photographs of people's faces are not allowed on the display board.
  • Exhibition of human parts and tissue is prohibited. The following, when properly acquired, is acceptable for exhibition: teeth, hair, nails, histological sections, and liquid tissue slides.
  • At the conclusion of judging, students are responsible for removing any items that may be damaged by, dangerous to, or removed by the public.
  • Every effort is made to prevent vandalism of each exhibit. However, the CSRA Regional Science and Engineering Fair, Inc. does not assume responsibility for loss or damage to any exhibit. Any exhibit remaining after the final exhibit removal period will be discarded.

Return to the Beginning of the Rules


Maximum Size of the Project at the Intel ISEF:

  • 30 inches (76 centimeters) deep
  • 48 inches (122 centimeters) wide
  • 108 inches (274 centimeters) high including table.

NOTES: 1) Fair provided Tables at ISEF will not exceed a height of 36 inches (91 centimeters). 2) Backboards are not provided at the Intel ISEF or Regional Fair. 3) Display area at ISEF consists of a draped table and curtained back. Display area at CSRA Regional Fair consists of a paper covered table.

Not Allowed at Project or in Booth

  1. Living organisms including plants.
  2. Taxidermy specimens or parts.
  3. Preserved vertebrate or invertebrate animals.
  4. Human or animal food.
  5. Human/animal parts or body fluids (for example, blood, urine). (Exceptions: teeth, hair, nails, dried animal bones, histological dry mount sections, and completely sealed wet mount tissue slides).
  6. Plant materials (living, dead, or preserved) usually which were part of the scientific experimentation and which are in their raw, unprocessed, or non-manufactured state (Exception: manufactured construction materials used in building th eproject or display).
  7. Laboratory/household chemicals including water (Exceptions: water integral to an enclosed apparatus or water supplied by the Display and Safety Committee).
  8. Poisons, drugs, controlled substances, hazardous substances or devices (for example, firearms, weapons, ammunition, reloading devices).
  9. Dry ice or other sublimating solids.
  10. Sharp items (for example, syringes, needles, pipettes, knives).
  11. Flames or highly flammable materials.
  12. Batteries with open top cells.
  13. Awards, medals, business cards, flags, etc. (Exception: The current year Intel ISEF medal may be worn during at all times).
  14. Photographs or other visual presentations depicting vertebrate animals in surgical techniques, dissections, necropsies, other lab techniques, improper handling methods, improper housing conditions, etc.

Allowed at Project or in Booth BUT with the Restrictions Indicated

  1. Soil or waste samples if permanently sealed in a slab of acrylic.
  2. Empty tanks that previously contained combustible liquids or gases must be certified as having been purged with carbon dioxide.
  3. Accomplishments, acknowledgments, addresses other than the Finalist's address, telephone and FAX numbers and e-mail and Web addresses are allowed only inside research papers or data books.
  4. The only photographs or visual depictions of identifiable or recognizable people allowed are photographs of the Finalist, the Finalist's family, or persons for which consent forms [Human Subjects and Informed Consent Form (4) or and equivalent form provided by a registered research institution] are readily visible on the table or in front of the vertical display board.
  5. Any apparatus with unshielded belts, pulleys, chains, or moving parts with tension or pinch points may not be operated.
  6. Class II lasers:
    1. May be operated only by the Finalist
    2. May be operated only during Display and Safety inspection and during judging.
    3. Posted sign must read: "Laser Radiation: Do Not Stare Into Beam"
    4. Must have protective housing that prevents visual access to beam
    5. Must be disconnected when not operating
  7. Class III and IV lasers may not be operated.
  8. Large vacuum tubes or dangerous ray-generating devices must be properly shielded.
  9. Pressurized tanks that contain noncombustibles may be allowed if properly secured.
  10. Any apparatus producing temperatures that will cause physical burns must be adequately insulated.

Electrical Regulations at the Intel ISEF

  1. Finalists required 120 or 220 Volt A.C. electrical circuits must provide a UL-listed 3-wire extension cord which is appropriate for the load and equipment.
  2. Electrical power supplied to projects and, therefore, the maximums allowed for projects is 120 or 220 Volt, A.C., single phase, 60 cycle.   Maximum circuit amperage/wattage available is determined by the electrical circuit capacities of the exhibit hall and may be adjusted on-site by the Display and Safety Committee.  For all electrical regulations, "120 Volt A.C." or "220 Vold A.C." is intended to encompass the corredsponding range of voltage as supplied by the facility in which the Intel ISEF is being held.
  3. See Additional Project and General Regulations for other electrical rules.

Handouts and Official Abstract at the Intel ISEF (this is only required for projects attending the Intel ISEF International Fair)

The official abstract is defined as an UNALTERED photocopy or the original blue-line abstract as stamped/embossed by the Intel ISEF Scientific Review Committee.  If the Scientific Review Committee requires a Finalist to make changes to his or her abstract, the new version will be stamped/embossed and will become the Finalist's new official abstract.

The only abstract allowed anywhere at a project is the official abstract.  The term "abstract" may not be used as title or reference for any information on a Finalist's display or in a Finalist's materials at the project except on the official abstract.

The original or an unaltered copy of the Finalist's official abstract must appear on the display board on in a vertical position at the project.

Handouts to judges and to the public must be limited to a copy of the official abstract.

Items Required to be Visible at Project at the Intel ISEF

  • Official abstract as approved and stamped/embossed by the Intel ISEF Scientific Review Committee - Intel ISEF only
  • Scientific Review Committee approval form
  • Completed Intel ISEF Exhibit Approval Form DS2 (Received on-site at the Fair) - Intel ISEF only
  • Forms which must be visible at all times on the table or in front of the vertical display board if they apply to the project:
    • Registered Research Institutional/Industrial Setting Form (1C) - if applicable
    • Informed Consent Forms (4B) (or equivalent form provided by a registered research institution) for any identifiable and/or recognizable people (except the Finalist or the Finalist's family members) who are included in any photographs or visual depictions anywhere at the project or in the booth.
  • Other forms [including, but not limited, Checklist for Adult Sponsor/Safety Assessment Form, Research Plan (1A), and Approval Form (1B)] which are required for the project or for Scientific Review Committee approval do not have to be displayed as part of the project but should be available in the booth in case asked for by a judge or other Intel ISEF official.

Additional Itmes Required to be at the Project But Not Displayed at the Intel ISEF

  • Informed Consent Forms (4B) (or equivalent form provided by a registered research institution) for human subjects of the research, surveys, etc. (if applicable) are confidential information, must not be displayed, but must be available in the booth in case asked for by a judge or other Intel ISEF official.
  • Other forms [including, but not limited to, Checklist for Adult Sponsor/Safety Assessment Form, Research Plan (1A), and Approval Form (1B)] which are required for the project or for Scientific Review Committee approval do not have to be displayed as part of the project but should be available in the booth in case asked for by a jduge or other Intel ISEF official.

Additional Electrical Regulations at the Intel ISEF

  • See the Display and Safety Regulations for other electrical rules.
  • All electrical work must conform to the National Electrical Code or exhibit hall regulations.  The guidelines presented here are general ones, and other rules may apply to specific configurations.  The on-site electrician may be requested to review electrical work.
  • All electrical connectors, wiring, switches, extension cords, fuses, etc. must be UL-listed and must be appropriate for the load and equipment.  Connections must be soldered or made with UL-listed connectors.  Wiring, switches, and metal parts must have adequate insulation and overcurrent safety devices (such as fuses) and must be inaccessible to anyone but the Finalist.  Exposed electrical equipment or metal that is liable to be energized must be shielded with a nonconducting material or with a grounded metal box or cage to prevent accidental contact.
  • There must be an accessible, clearly visible on/off switch or other means of disconnect from the 120 or 220 Volt power source.
  • Wiring which is not part of a commercially available UL-listed appliance or piece of equipment must have a fuse or circuit breaker on the supply side of the power source and prior to any project equipment.

General Intel ISEF Information and Requirements

  • No changes, modifications, or additions to projects may be made after approval by the Display and Safety Committee and the Scientific Review Committee.
  • A project data book and research paper are not required but are recommended.
  • The only acceptable informed consent form for use at the Intel ISEF is the official Form 4B in the International Rules for Precollege Science Research or an equivalent form provided by a registered research institution (see form 1C).
  • Prior years' written material or visual depictions may not be displayed on the vertical display board except that the project title displayed in the Finalist's booth may mention years or which year the project is (for example, "Year Two of an Ongoing Study").
  • Finalists using audio-visual or multi-media presentations (for example, 35mm slides; videotapes; images, graphics, animations, etc., displayed on computer monitors; or other non-print presentation methods) must be prepared to show the entire presentation to the Display and Safety inspectors before the project is approved.
  • No photographs or any other visual depictions may be included in any manner at a project or in the booth if they are deemed visually offensive by the Scientific Review Committee, the Display and Safety Committee, or Science Service.   This includes, but is not limited to, visually offensive photographs or visual depictions of invertebrate or vertebrate animals, including humans.  The decision by any one of the groups mentioned above is final.
  • If a project fails to qualify and is not removed by the Finalist, Science Service will remove the project in the safest manner possible, but is not responsible for damage to the project.
  • Any copies of printed materials (including unofficial abstracts) designed to be distributed to judges or members of the public which are confiscated by the Display and Safety Committee will be discarded and will not be returned to the Finalist.
  • Project sounds must not be distracting to surrounding Finalists or judges.
  • No food or drinks, except small containers of bottled water for the Finalist's consumption during judging, are allowed in the exhibit hall.

Return to the Beginning of the Rules


The Scientific Rules Committee (SRC) performs the following:

  1. Before experimentation, the SRC reviews and approves experimental procedures for projects involving human subjects, nonhuman vertebrates, pathogenic agents, controlled substances, recombinant DNA, and human/animal tissue to make sure they comply with the rules and any pertinent laws.  Human studies reviewed and approved by a properly constituted IRB do not have to be reviewed by the SRC until ISEF-Affiliated Fair competition.
  2. After experimentation and shortly before the ISEF-Affiliated Fair, the SRC reviews and approves those same projects, to make sure the student followed the approved Research Plan (1A) and the Rules.
  3. After experimentation and shortly before the ISEF-Affiliated Fair, the SRC also reviews all remaining projects, to make sure the student followed the applicable Rules.

Make every effort to comply with the rules applicable to your type of project and complete all necessary forms. Urge your school to set up an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to assist you in determining applicable health and safety rules and completion of the required forms. If your school does not have an IRB, contact a member of the Scientific and Safety Review Committee (SRC) or the Board of Directors with your questions before experimentation begins. We are glad to assist students, parents and teachers.

For experiments involving Humans or Animals, forms and the experimental plan or abstract to review and, where required, to obtain SRC approval, may also be mailed (before the start of research or no later than mid-January of the curent fair year) to the following Scientific and Safety Review Committee members:

Dr. T. L. Walker
2124 Highland Ave.
Augusta, GA 30904


Dr. Holly Woltz
1721 Whiskey Road
Aiken, SC 29803

Please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for the return of these forms.

Please be aware of the importance for students to bring ALL the ORIGINAL PAPERWORK (forms, abstract, logbook, formal report) with them to the CSRA Regional Fair even though copies may have been sent with the entry papers. The Scientific and Safety Review Committee check-in process at the Regional Fair includes a review of all aspects of the project including forms and signatures. The student is to always keep the original forms with the project.

The CSRA Regional Fair SRC is the final authority on projects which may compete in the Regional Fair. The Regional Fair SRC may ask students to explain their research plans and sequence of activites. In many cases, it may be determined that the student or Adult Sponsor did not understand a particular detail of completing the forms or interpreting a rule. A simple corrective measure may be prescribed, such as removing food items from the display. If rules violations are found that cannot be readily corrected, the SRC may allow the project to be displayed with the understanding that it will not be judged and will not be eligible for any awards.

Return to the Beginning of the Rules