Rules and Regulations
- Link to the website for The Society for Science & the Public (SSP) with the rules and regulations. Resource Link
- Display and Safety regulations (from the SSP website). Resource Link
- Link to FAQs on the rules and regulations for Society for Science & the Public (SSP) affiliated fairs. Resource Link
The International Science & Engineering Fair has been in existence since May of 1950 when 30 student finalists from 13 US regional fairs competed in Philadelphia. In the 69 years since its inception, ISEF has grown to almost 1800 finalists from over 78 countries, regions, and territories. At ISEF 2019 over $5,000,000 in scholarships and awards were given to students from around the globe.
To compete at the International Science & Engineering Fair, students must first compete and be selected at a regional, state, or country science fair that is affiliated with ISEF. Idaho never had any ISEF-affiliated science fairs until a meeting between Angela Hemingway, Executive Director of the STEM Action Center, and Merrie Rampy, teacher, in late 2015. From this meeting came a commitment to bring ISEF-affiliated Science Fairs to Idaho to give our students the chance to share their research at ISEF.
In February and March, 2017, the Idaho STEM Action Center and its partners proudly hosted Idaho’s first regional high school science and engineering fairs. The winners of these three fairs represented Idaho during the 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), one of the premier international student science and engineering competitions. Idaho was one of the last states in the nation to offer our students the opportunity to present original STEM research and compete at this fair. Runners-up from each fair attended as observers to bring back new knowledge to help their peers build better projects for the next fair (seniors were ineligible). All travel expenses for Idaho teams were covered by the STEM Action Center.
The fifth annual Idaho Science & Engineering Fairs are scheduled for February and March 2021.
What to Expect During the Fair
Note: The actual fair schedules may be adjusted from this schedule (based on the number of projects that must be reviewed), but this can serve as a good guideline for what to expect.
Idaho Science & Engineering Fair Schedule
No food or beverages, other than water bottles, allowed in the exhibit room
8:30am - 9:30am Set-up projects (please allow at least 10 minutes for the Display&Safety review)
9:30am – 10:15am Judging preview (judges only – closed to all others)
10:15am - 3:00pm Judging (Judges and participants only - closed to all others, participants will be given a 30min staggered lunch break by category)
3:00pm - 5:00pm Open for public viewing (open to all - participants at projects from 4:00-5:00)
5:00pm – 6:00pm Awards Ceremony (Special Awards will be announced first)
Projects may not be removed until immediately after the Awards Ceremony
There will be a brief mandatory meeting for ISEF Finalists and Observers, parents, and teachers immediately after the Awards Ceremony
Fair Day Tips
- Dress professionally, but comfortably – you will be standing for 4-5 hours
- Bring a water bottle
- Be prepared for down-time, but keep yourself ready to speak to judges at any time
- You are the expert on your research, so speak with confidence
- The judges are not trying to catch you in a mistake, they’re trying to determine how well you understand your research, so if you don’t know how to answer a question, ask them to repeat it or simply say you don’t know and move on.
- There will be category award judges, best-of-fair judges, and special awards judges – it’s okay to ask your judges which group they are in.
- Judging is closed to all except the presenters and the judges, so be prepared for some down-time
- Presenters will be released for lunch by categories, as the judges take breaks, so your students may be out any time between 11:30 and 1:30pm for a 30-minute lunch break
- We will be hosting a Teacher/Mentor focus group during the judging – time and location will be posted at the registration desk
- Projects will be open for public viewing as soon as judging is completed and presenters are released (approximately 3pm). Students should be back at their projects from 4-5pm to speak with the public
Animal, Biomedical & Microbiology - Eastern Idaho
Studies involving vertebrate and invertebrate animals (humans, horses, insects, mollusks, etc...).
Biomedical / health sciences, cellular biology, and molecular biology.
Studies involving micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, prokaryotes, and simple eukaryotes), including antimicrobial / antibiotic studies.
Animal, Biomedical & Microbiology - Northern Idaho
Animal, Biomedical & Microbiology - Western Idaho
Behavioral and Social Sciences - Eastern Idaho
Studies on thought processes, behaviors, and interactions - humans, animals, insects, etc...
Psychology, sociology, anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, learning, perception, public opinion surveys, effects of stress, conditioned responses, etc.
Behavioral and Social Sciences - Northern Idaho
Behavioral and Social Sciences - Western Idaho
Earth, Environmental & Plants - Eastern Idaho
Atmospheric and climate science, geosciences, and water science.
Studies on the impact of environmental changes (due to humans or nature) on ecosystems.
Engineering solutions to environmental problems - cleanliness or availability of water, disposal of wastes, removal of hazards, control of pollution sources, etc...
Studies of plants - cultivation, development, genetics, pathology, physiology, and evolution.
Earth, Environmental & Plants - Northern Idaho
Earth, Environmental & Plants - Western Idaho
Engineering - Eastern Idaho
Mechanical, chemical, electrical, civil, and biomedical engineering.
Note that Environmental Engineering projects should be entered in the "Earth, Environmental & Plants" category.
Engineering - Northern Idaho
Engineering - Western Idaho
Math, Comp. Sci. & Embedded Systems - Eastern Idaho
Mathematics - calculus, geometry, abstract algebra, number theory, statistics, probability, logical systems, and applied mathematics
The use of software and/or methodologies to demonstrate, analyze, simulate or compute. Includes machine learning and artificial intelligence.
All science and engineering in which sensors, microcontrollers, or machine intelligence are used to reduce reliance on human intervention.
Math, Comp. Sci. & Embedded Systems - Northern Idaho
Math, Comp. Sci. & Embedded Systems - Western Idaho
Physical Sciences - Eastern Idaho
All areas of physics and astronomy.
Studies on chemical and physical energy sources (solar, wind, water, geothermal, nuclear, alternative fuels, etc...).
All areas of chemistry (including biochemistry).
Studies of materials formation or processing to get desired properties (includes materials for structural, electronic, magnetic, optical and biomedical applications).
Physical Sciences - Northern Idaho
Physical Sciences - Western Idaho
Participation Requirements for Judges
Previous experience in judging science fairs is helpful, but not required. Please review the requirements below before registering. The Idaho Science & Engineering Fairs are affiliated with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and will use the Intel ISEF Judging Criteria. In addition, all judges must meet the “Conflicts of Interest” requirements listed below. In cases where eligibility is questionable, the Judging Coordinator will make the decision.
MA, MS, or Ph.D. in the category in which they choose to judge, or in a closely related field.
BA or BS in the category which they choose to judge, or in a closely related field - along with three or more years of relevant experience.
There are planned to be six judging categories in which high school students may enter projects (final list of judging categories is subject to change).
- Animal, Biomedical, and Microbiology
Behavioral and Social Sciences
Earth, Environmental, and Plants
Mathematics, Computer Science, and Embedded Systems
Physical Sciences and Energy (Energy includes both Physical and Chemical Energy)
Conflicts of Interest:
To promote fairness and avoid conflicts of interest (as well as following SSP/Intel ISEF best practices), all judges will be asked during the online registration to sign a conflict of interest statement. Individuals cannot serve as judges at the Idaho Science & Engineering Fairs if they are:
9th-12th grade school teachers of fair participants or site administrators of schools with fair participants,
Parents or professional mentors to any student participant in the requested area of judging,
Anyone else whose relationship with any science fair participant could pose a conflict of interest. If there is any doubt, please email Brad Howard (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be sure.