FAQ & RESOURCES
WHY should I do a project?
I'm in an ROP program & doing a research project will help me when I interview for a job - it will show my deeper interest...
I hear ACSEF gives out cash awards, internships, scholarships along with the ribbons and medals... look at the following videos to hear it from students themselves. Why students do science fair projects:
What are the parts of a science fair project?Here are a couple starting points:
Where can I get a project idea?Go here for a tutorial on getting an idea and how to write testable questions & hypotheses: Tutorial on Writing Testable Questions & Hypothesis Tutorial on getting project ideas and on how to write testable questions. Link to (*WATCH THE VIDEOS for idea possibilities) Engineering project ideas
How do I know if my project idea is acceptabe for the science fair?Go to this link minimum qualilty standards. Once you think you've got a good idea, a procedure and materials list - we would like you to email us for feedback from our team of experts who may offer you some suggestions BEFORE you send in an official application.
If I am doing an Engineering Project is the research plan format any different than if I'm doing a science research project?Yes. Go to Engineering Project Research Plan Guidelines
What are the Judging Categories at ACSEF?There are 10 high school judging categories and 7 middle school categories. Go to this link to see a description of each Judging Category
What are the Science Fair Rules?Make sure your project complies with the division rules: Middle School Project Rules or High School Project Rules
Does my project need pre-experimental safety approval by the fair before I can do the experiment?Maybe. You should check this link for the types of projects and the application deadline for those that need pre-experimental approval and those that do not. Pre-approval or Not???
Is there any reason my project would fail to qualify for competition?Basically if you need pre-experimental approval and dont' get it, scientific dishonesty, you don't follow the rules for working with humans, vertebrates, microbes... but there are others - check this link Most common reasons projects fail to qualify
What exactly is a log book, is it required and when do I start it?A log book IS REQUIRED for judging. Start it when you first begin planning for your project. It is a benefit to you when you start thinking about the outcome of your project and little things that you may have forgotten along the way - you can look back for that "ah ha" moment! Judges want to see a record of your thinking and work that lead you to the judging event.Science buddies has a complete example of a good research log book at this link. A good log book often makes the difference in great project and a good one.
How long does it take to complete a science fair project?Sample Project Timeline including a link to suggested Month by Month to do list.
If I need help with a question about my testable question or experiment where can I get answers/helpHere you go...try one of these:
- email us - Our team of experts can give you a quick answer and offer suggestions. Answers usually within 24-48 hours maximum! Use the Contact Us link in the menu bar - be sure to include your grade and name of school.
- You may try our ACSEF e-mentor program. Mentors are available by email only
- Science Buddies "Ask an Expert"
- Additionally if you want a more direct mentor you can follow these guidelines from Science Buddies How to Find a project Mentor
I want to do something using humans. Are there any restrictions?Yes. Go to the chart to determine if the study you want to do will have some restrictions or is allowed but requires some special forms and SRC/IRB pre-approval. Human Risk Assessment & full rules for human subjects https://student.societyforscience.org/human-participants
Are there any projects that should be avoided?Well yes and no. We suggest you modify certain projects that have been overdone and you can simply “Google” the answer without performing an experiment: Projects that need modifications
My teacher says I need to do some background research before beginning to write my procedure and do my project. What is involved when doing background research?A good place to begin would be by checking out what this site has to say about forming a background research plan and this site also gives good advice background research
After doing background research then what do I do?
- Now you are ready to do three things:
- Write your hypothesis & procedure
- Write a brief ( 1-3 pages double spaced) report titled "Review of Literature". This is a report summarizing related things that you needed to learn in order to be familiar with your topic.
I keep hearing about MSDS. What is MSDS and which projects need MSDS?MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheet. The MSDS describes the proper and safe way to use, store and dispose of any lab grade chemical you might be using in your project.
Most MSDS can be found at Flinn Scientific MSDS Search and Household product MSDS can be found here at NIH Houshold Products MSDS Search
All projects that use lab grade chemicals have potential to be hazardous if not stored, used & disposed of properly.
We want all students to conduct safe research. Applicants need to search for, print, read and attach each MSDS to the research plan & use the information to complete the the application Form #3 Risk Assessment.
What is a project ABSTRACT? Is it required for ACSEF?An abstract is a summary of the project and YES it is required for all projects. It is written AFTER the project is completed, the data analyzed and conclusion written. The Intel ISEF website suggests High School Students follow these suggestions: Abstract details & SAMPLES
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR ABSTRACT online: Submit ONLINE by Sunday March 3
Click here to find the abstract form & submit. Print 10-15 copies to bring to the judging.
How do I make a really good project display poster ?We can help. Project Display Rules & Guidelines The poster is important to SHOW the details of your project when you are not present or when talking to the public or judges.
What will the judging process involve? What do I do while at my display?The judges want to encourage you to open up and share what you have learned during your research. So relax and answer their questions and tell them what you want them to know in case they didn’t ask the most important question. Check here for some insight into what will occur during the judging
What types of prizes are awarded by ACSEFRibbons, certificates, medals and monetary awards. More than $25,000 was given in prize money to students last year from ACSEF. Additionally there are major companies giving out special awards. Check the link for all of the award details: ACSEF Awards
Have I done everything I need to do?Well let's see... Check this list for Middle School Project Checklist. Check this list for High School Project Checklist
Where can I get even more information and guidebooks?Helpful websites with project guidelines and ideas include the following:
Science Buddies a great #1 science fair resource for EVERYONE for EVERYTHING related to science fair projects including finding a project using their topic selection wizard and MUCH MORE!
Intel ISEF Middle School Teacher's Guidebook
Intel ISEF High School Project Planning
Greater San Diego Science Fair Planning Book An EXCELLENT resource for each aspect of the project with lots of sample items including doing background research and writing the report.
Are there additional competitions I can enter my project into?Yes! Check this partial list of additional competitions out. There are more than we can list. Many of these require that you've been a winner at a regional fair (LLNL~ACSEF) to apply, but not all of them do. Additional Competitions.