Standard for Programs & Services

The Standard: Science fair programs and services are aligned with the mission, approved by the governance, sufficiently financed, and periodically reviewed by stakeholders. They are developed to address the needs of the community and serve the entire geographic territory of the fair. Effective policies and procedures are in place, along with materials, technology, and equipment that are appropriate, functional, and well maintained.  The fair meets the requirements of affiliation with SSP to send participants forward to the ISEF.

Indicators for all science fairs:

Policies and Procedures

4.1    The programs and services are designed in accordance with the fair’s philosophy/mission, are offered with the utmost professionalism, and respectfully serve persons of all races, creeds and cultures throughout the geographic territory of the fair.

4.2    The science fair has written documentation made public to all stakeholders describing science fair programs and services that identify territory, eligibility, rules, deadlines and fees associated with participation.

4.3    The science fair’s programs, services, policies and timeline consider the various needs of those receiving the science fair’s services and programs and are compatible with timely participation in the ISEF.

4.4    Written policies and procedures provide direction to the leadership, governance, and other stakeholders in the development, implementation, and improvement of the science fair’s programs and services.

Communications/Accommodations/Customer Service

4.5    The science fair has established communication channels (phone, email, website, etc.) to provide information to stakeholders as well as to be available to respond to questions and requests from stakeholders.

4.6    The science fair has a procedure to address requests for special accommodations to serve those with disabilities, religious considerations, language barriers and/or schedule conflicts.  (This does not suggest that all such requests must be granted, but rather that the fair has a process by which the leadership can thoughtfully consider such requests and/or have written policy in place to address.)

4.7    The science fair has a grievance process to address concerns and complaints from stakeholders.  This process should include concerns raised regarding eligibility, rules review, display requirements and judging.

4.8    The science fair attempts to monitor and gather information about program participant satisfaction.  This can be done through a formal survey instrument or more informally, but should be a consideration as a fair improves through experiences and stakeholder feedback.


4.9    The science fair should include in its offerings outreach and training to stakeholders throughout the geographic territory to recruit and support program participants.


4.10  Science fair will establish a privacy policy that considers the privacy of donors, participants and volunteers.  Such policies should attempt to respect and safeguard the confidentiality of information that persons reasonably would expect to be private.

Review Bodies – SRC and IRB

4.11  The science fair requires high school students who participate in the ISEF-affiliated fair to follow the International Rules for Precollege Science Research: Guidelines for Science and Engineering Fairs (ISEF Rules) and to use ISEF forms. A science fair is encouraged to have all grade levels adhere to the International Rules and forms, but appropriately modified rules and forms for the younger grades are acceptable given that they adhere to the spirit of the International Rules.

4.12 The science fair governance and/or leadership will appoint a Scientific Review Committee (SRC) that consists of a minimum of three members. The SRC must include at least one each of: a) biomedical scientist (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., D.O.), b) science educator, and c) another member (which may, but is not required to be, a biomedical scientist or a science educator).  The SRC will be registered with SSP during the annual affiliation process.

4.13     The SRC will be operational and functioning throughout the year to support student research.  There should be clear communication with stakeholders about how to have a project pre-reviewed and the timeline and deadlines for such a review.

4.14  The science fair should support the creation of school Institutional Review Boards to allow human participant research to be pre-reviewed by the appropriate authority.


4.15  The science fair will confirm the territory with as much detail as possible and must specify any areas or populations within the defined area that are excluded. These territories as defined may not overlap with the territory of an existing ISEF-affiliated fair, except by a state or national fair or if otherwise granted by previous agreement.

4.16  The science fair should consider policies involving accepting students from outside of the geographic territory of their fair.  Team projects involving students from other regions of the country and students from regions without an affiliate fair seeking an affiliate fair are two common requests that should be considered.

Finalists at ISEF

4.17     The science fair will adhere to the standard for judging in selection of students to attend the ISEF.  Those chosen will have been properly reviewed by the SRC and will meet all eligibility requirements of participation as stated in the International Rules.

4.18  The science fair, through sponsors or other funding, will be responsible for arranging and financing registration fees, round trip travel, housing, meals, and reasonable project shipping expenses(or alternative onsite display arrangements) for ALL Individual and Team Finalist(s) and the Accompanying Adult in Charge.  Finalist families shall not be required to pay expenses as a condition of Finalist participation. Finalists must be escorted by an accompanying Adult in Charge. If a team project is selected to compete in the ISEF, all team members must be granted the opportunity to attend the competition and any costs associated with attendance must be supported by the science fair.



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