The International Rules for Pre-college Science Research: Guidelines for Science and Engineering Fairs is published annually to support students doing independent research safely. They are the official rules of the ISEF and students competing at the Twin Cities Regional Science Fairs and the Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair. Please see all forms and rules books on the Forms page. See also the Ethics Policy for these competitions below.
The purpose of these rules is to:
- protect the rights and welfare of the student researcher
- protect the rights and welfare of the human participant
- ensure humane handling of any vertebrate animals studied
- ensure adherence to federal regulations
- ensure use of safe laboratory practices
- protect the environment
- determine eligibility for competition
For rules questions, please contact email@example.com. Please include the student’s name, grade in school, and if possible, the student’s complete research plan.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the ISEF Rules is available from Society for Science at https://www.societyforscience.org/isef/international-rules/faq/
The most common error in completing ISEF forms is understanding the date requirements. The ISEF date requirements can be found at https://www.societyforscience.org/isef/overview-of-forms-and-dates/
Complete Book: Rules & Forms
Research Plan and Post Project Summary Instructions Type the plan into a Word document and save as PDF or use TCRSF's Research Plan Template
The rules may be downloaded directly from Society for Science at https://www.societyforscience.org/isef/international-rules/
Additional Resources are available at the bottom of the following page: https://www.societyforscience.org/isef/international-rules/rules-for-all-projects/
Eligibility Information Any individual student or team of two to three students in grades 6-12, currently attending any school (including home school) in Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Sherburne, and Wright counties can participate.
- A student may participate in and enter only one science project per year.
- A student may participate in and enter only one research paper per year.
- The science project and the research paper may be on the exact same work, or they may be on different work.
- Team projects and team papers must include all team members in the registration, even if not all attend the fair.
- All team project members must be in the same division, grades 6-8 or grades 9-12.
- All team research paper members must be in the same division, grades 6-8 or grades 9-12.
- All research papers must comply with ISEF and JSHS rules & guidelines.
Ethics Policy Scientific fraud and misconduct are not condoned at any level of research or competition. This includes plagiarism, forgery, use or presentation of other researcher’s work as one’s own and fabrication of data. Fraudulent projects will fail to qualify for competition in affiliated fairs, TCRSF and ISEF. Society for Science & the Public reserves the right to revoke recognition of a project subsequently found to have been fraudulent.
NEW: TCRSF now covers NINE counties of Minnesota! Students who attend school (public, private, charter, home school) in Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Dakota, Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Sherburne, and Wright Counties who are in grades 6-12 are invited to participate. There are three ways for a student to participate in the Twin Cities Regional Science Fairs:
- Participate in a school science fair and be chosen to advance to the regional fair, or
- Participate in a Minnesota Academy of Science-Affiliated Science Club, or
- Obtain teacher or the adult project mentor approval and recommendation to compete at the regional level. You may also contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about entering the regional fair directly. If you contact us directly, please provide your name, grade level (grade 6-12) and your research plan, or a short description of your project or experiment.
Student participants in the science fair can compete in the project competition (grades 6-12) and are also encouraged to participate in the research paper competition (grades 6-12) using the same experimental work.
The Twin Cities Regional Science Fairs sends winning students from grades 6-12 on to the Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair, a program of the Minnesota Academy of Science, as well as to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) (grades 9-12 only) and Broadcom MASTERS™ Competition (grades 6-8 only). If you have questions about how to participate in the science fair, please contact the Fair Director at email@example.com.
The first Twin Cities Regional Science Fair was held in 1939.
Open to the Public will be available online Saturday, February 27, 2021. You will need to be logged in to view the student exhibits (Student, Teacher, Judge, Staff, Volunteer, Attendee).
All who are logged in to tcrsf.zfairs.com may see the other virtual exhibits.
Go to the Fair tab at the top, then pull down to Showcase. Give it a minute to load. You may see videos, PDFs, abstracts, and so on from each project. You may search for key words, or student names, or by category.
When you are done, click on Home or on the 9-County logo to go back to the Home page. Enjoy the Showcase!
What to Expect During the Virtual Fair
The research paper competition will be held online where judges will read and score the students' research papers. The registration for research papers and judging of research papers will occur on tcrsf.net. Comments by judges will be available for students a few days before the in-person virtual judging of projects.
The project competition will be held online with round 1 of judging will be reviewing the materials uploaded by the student (after uploads are approved by the Display and Safety team). The student is not present for round 1. Round 2 of judging will be similar to the students waiting for the judges during judging at the fair - but the student will be in a virtual room ready to answer judges questions. The judges will already have reviewed the project materials, and so may go straight to questions about the project. Expect that there will be about 2 to 5 judges per session. Special awards judges may add in to your judging session or may stop in when you are not talking to other judges. Relax, have fun, answer judges questions as you tell your story. Students: you are the expert on your project!
We are planning to have a virtual awards ceremony - and will need to mail you your awards, so make sure that you have registered with your correct address, email that you can receive from emails outside your school, and a phone number at which we could reach you.
Monday, Feb.15 - all project materials and SRC form fixes must be done. Your presentation video URL must be entered and saved.You can test it by logging in, going to Fair tab, Showcase page, then find your project and see how it looks. Try the hotlinks! Students/teachers - make sure you have credited your photos, diagrams, charts, and graphs in your display! It is also a GREAT IDEA to upload a school or other photo with your parents permission to put a face to the work the judges will be judging.
Tuesday Feb 16 - Thursday Feb. 18 - Display and Safety inspection of all projects. (Students are not present for virtual inspection.)
Friday, Feb. 19 - Wednesday, Feb. 24 Both scoring judges and special awards judges will be looking at student exhibits and videos and research papers if they were uploaded into the project exhibit. Students - just relax here! This all goes on without you.
Thursday, Feb. 25 - Watch your email for details. We may try to schedule a short practice round - no scores - so students and judges can test the video interface to make sure they will be able to connect.
FRIDAY, Feb. 26 - Just like for the in-person fair, judges will get to talk to students about the students' projects. Students: the judges have already reviewed your exhibit... so now is the time to interact, answer questions, ask questions, and have fun talking about your project (but not repeating the video presentation). This is likely 4 PM CST to done before 9 PM. We are trying to see if we can build a schedule so we can cut it down to only about 3 hours. Watch your email (likely on Thursday, Feb. 25)
Saturday Feb 27 Exhibits are Open to the Public
Sunday Feb. 28 Awards program online 1 PM
Monday, March 1 in the evening we will certify our ISEF Finalists. This will be of interest to students who are alternates and announced to be ISEF finalists and their parents. Those announced at the Awards program are NOT certified until during this March 1st virtual meeting.
In March, awards will be mailed to the students' home addresses from in their registration.
This category includes all aspects of animals and animal life, animal life cycles, and animal interactions with one another or with their environment.
Behavioral and Social Sciences
The science or study of the thought processes and behavior of humans and other animals in their interactions with the environment studied through observational and experimental methods.
The study of the chemical basis of processes occurring in living organisms, including the processes by which these substances enter into, or are formed in, the organisms and react with each other and the environment.
Biomedical and Health Sciences
This category focuses on studies specifically designed to address issues of human health and disease. It includes studies on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention or epidemiology of disease and other damage to the human body or mental systems. Includes studies of normal functioning and may investigate internal as well as external factors such as feedback mechanisms, stress or environmental impact on human health and disease.
Projects that involve the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes including diagnosis, monitoring and therapy. Prominent biomedical engineering applications include the development of biocompatible prostheses, various diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices ranging from clinical equipment to micro-implants, common imaging equipment such as MRIs and EEGs, regenerative tissue growth, pharmaceutical drugs and therapeutic biologicals.
Cellular and Molecular Biology
This is an interdisciplinary field that studies the structure, function, intracellular pathways, and formation of cells. Studies involve understanding life and cellular processes specifically at the molecular level.
Studies exploring the science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter not involving biochemical systems.
Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Studies that primarily focus on the discipline and techniques of computer science and mathematics as they relate to biological systems. This includes the development and application of data-analytical and theoretical methods, mathematical modeling and computational simulation techniques to the study of biological, behavior, and social systems.
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Studies of the environment and its effect on organisms/systems, including investigations of biological processes such as growth and life span, as well as studies of Earth systems and their evolution.
Studies involving electrical systems in which information is conveyed via signals and waveforms for purposes of enhancing communications, control and/or sensing.
Energy: Sustainable Materials and Design
Studies/processes involving the production and/or storage of energy.
Studies that focus on the science and engineering that involve movement or structure. The movement can be by the apparatus or the movement can affect the apparatus.
Studies that engineer or develop processes and infrastructure to solve environmental problems in the supply of water, the disposal of waste, or the control of pollution.
The study of the integration of various materials forms in systems, devices, and components that rely on their unique and specific properties. It involves their synthesis and processing in the form of nanoparticles, nanofibers, and nanolayered structures, to coatings and laminates, to bulk monolithic, single-/poly-crystalline, glassy, soft/hard solid, composite, and cellular structures. It also involves measurements of various properties and characterization of the structure across length scales, in addition to multi-scale modeling and computations for process-structure and structure-property correlations.
The study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols. The deductive study of numbers, geometry, and various abstract constructs, or structures.
The study of micro-organisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, prokaryotes, and simple eukaryotes as well as antimicrobial and antibiotic substances.
Physics and Astronomy
Physics is the science of matter and energy and of interactions between the two. Astronomy is the study of anything in the universe beyond the Earth.
Studies of plants and how they live, including structure, physiology, development, and classification. Includes plant cultivation, development, ecology, genetics and plant breeding, pathology, physiology, systematics and evolution.
Robotics and Intelligent Machines
Studies in which the use of machine intelligence is paramount to reducing the reliance on human intervention.
The study or development of software, information processes or methodologies to demonstrate, analyze, or control a process/solution.
Translational Medical Science
Projects that aim to improve human health and longevity by translating novel discoveries in the biomedical sciences into effective activities and tools for clinical and public health use. Bi-directional in concept, projects can be those developed through basic research moving toward clinical testing (bench-to-bedside) or projects that provide feedback about the applications of new treatments and how they can be improved (beside-to-bench).
We have two kinds of judges.
- Ribbon Judges: All projects will have judges that are scoring their project according to our scoring rubric which is available on our website (Judging Criteria). This is the same rubric as is used at state science fair.
- Special Awards Judges: There are special awards judges who are selecting projects based on the criteria for the award. Any project many win a special award regardless of their ribbon score, if they happen to best match the award criteria. These special awards come from 3 areas:
- Regional affiliated awards from our affiliations with international
- Sponsor awards which are in honor of the annual financial donations that pay for 80% of the costs of running Twin Cities Regional Science Fairs (registration fees cover only about 17% of our annual budget). Remember, we are an ALL-volunteer 501c3 educational nonprofit, so our sponsors are donating directly into the costs of this youth program!
- Awards from Individuals/Groups.
We ask that our High School judges have a minimum of a science or engineering bachelor's degree, or six years of science/engineering work experience. We prefer that our middle school judges meet the same criteria, but we will permit upper division undergraduates to judge 6th and 7th grade.
No parents or teachers may judge in the division (middle school or high school) in which they have students competing. If you have students in both, please consider volunteering for another position. We still need your help and there are many jobs that you could do!
Judge score sheets (grading rubrics) are provided below for your information. We provide the score sheets at the fair for the judges. Students: review these score sheets in advance to know the grading standard!