e s f letters
e s f letters

Student working on their projectSUNY-ESF Science and Engineering Fair

Sunday, April 2, 2006
To be held at Nottingham High School
3100 East Genesee Street, Syracuse

  • Registration deadline is Friday, March 3 deadline extended to Friday, March 24, 2006
    Completed paperwork must be received at SUNY-ESF by Friday, March 10, 2006.  Email the ESF SEF immediately if this is not possible.

Plus, as an optional activity:

  • SUNY-ESF Science and Engineering Career Exploration Day, Saturday, April 1, 2006

On Saturday afternoon, seminars and site tours with scientists and engineers will be hosted across CNY. The ESF SEF invites students from other ISEF-affiliated fairs in NY to join us! The Career Day registration form and complete schedule will be available soon.

If you still have questions after looking through this website, feel free to contact the ESF SEF at (315) 470-6817 or email the ESF SEF.

General ESF SEF Fair Information

  • Everyone should review the science fair overview below to become familiar with the program's structure, goals and vocabulary.
  • Registration begins with an adult's submission of his/her form by email. This can be a fair director, teacher, parent or mentor, depending upon the student's access to a local science fair before April 2nd. Review this info carefully!

ESF SEF Information

Note to registrants:
The process begins with adult registration, but students may download ESF SEF registration and media release and the ISEF Forms now to get started.


For fair directors, teachers, parents or mentors:
For students:
For judges:

Intel ISEF information

Note to registrants:
ALL ESF SEF students must submit ISEF Forms 1, 1A and 1B. Students and adults should carefully review guidelines to see if others are required.


For fair directors, teachers, parents or mentors:
For students:
For judges:

Students: Welcome to the ESF SEF! Be sure to visit all the student links for the ESF SEF and the Intel ISEF. Review all of the above information. At the ISEF site you will find many resources, even "Why complete a science fair project?" and "Tips and Advice" You can also find some useful suggestions and ideas at the excellent Science Buddies site from the Kenneth Lafferty Hess Family Charitable Foundation and Science Fairs with its LABRats online club for students and a free mailing list for teachers.

Parents, Teacher and Mentors: Students in grades 5-12 from the 28 counties listed below are eligible to register for the ESF SEF. We encourage students from public, charter, private and parochial schools as well as homeschooled students to participate. If your county is not on this list, please visit the ISEF website to identify your affiliated fair.

  • Allegany
  • Broome
  • Cattaraugus
  • Chautauqua
  • Chemung
  • Chenango
  • Clinton
  • Delaware
  • Erie
  • Essex
  • Franklin
  • Genesee
  • Herkimer
  • Jefferson
  • Lewis
  • Niagara
  • Orange
  • Orleans
  • Otsego
  • Rockland
  • Schuyler
  • Steuben
  • St. Lawrence
  • Sullivan
  • Tioga
  • Tompkins
  • Ulster
  • Wyoming

Costs: The ONLY fee for a student to participate in the ESF SEF is a $15 registration fee to be paid before the student comes to the fair.

It is not necessary to stay over in Syracuse, since the Saturday seminars and tours are optional, and the actual Science Fair lasts only one day. Fair students can bring their own meals. In addition, all expenses are paid for the Grand Award recipients – the two Finalists who will attend the week-long 2006 International Science and Engineering Fair in Indianapolis.

Mentors/teachers/parents will register themselves; adults do NOT pay a registration fee. Then we can accept the registrations of the student(s) they sponsor. Use the ESF SEF and ISEF checklists to monitor the processes. Be sure that all your students complete the necessary ISEF forms NOW. Review all the ISEF forms carefully, especially for appropriate signatures, before sending them to the ESF SEF. If your school does not have its own Science Review Committee (SRC) to review and approve projects, all projects must be submitted to the ESF SEF for review by the Binghamton University SRC/IRB immediately.

Below find the following:


Preparing a Scientific Project

There are certain procedures that students are expected to follow. All projects must have a research plan and a set of procedures prior to the start of experimentation. The ISEF guidelines established for students are nearly identical to those employed by professional scientists.

In order to establish that students have followed appropriate and ethical procedures, a number of forms have been developed. BEFORE a project requiring advance approval can begin, the student MUST:

  1. Complete ESF SEF registration and required ISEF forms with the needed signatures. To help you know what category to select, visit the ISEF site.
  2. Submit completed forms to the school's Scientific Review Committee (SRC), the sponsoring company's or college's Institutional Review Board (IRB), or the Binghamton University SRC/IRB. [Fax, then mail paperwork to the ESF SEF, which will make all necessary arrangements.]
  3. After a project has received SRC or IRB approval, the student must submit any changes to the research plan for approval as well. This must be done IMMEDIATELY.


All students must submit the following forms from ISEF:

  • Registration form
  • Form 1: Checklist for Adult Sponsor/Safety Assessment form
  • Form 1A: Research Plan
  • Form 1B: Approval form

Projects Requiring Advance Approval

If your project involves any of the following, these additional ISEF forms are REQUIRED:

  • Human subjects (2 or 3; 4A; 4B)
  • Non-human vertebrate animals (2 or 3; 5)
  • Pathogens, controlled substances, recombinant DNA (2 or 3)
  • Human and/or animal tissue (2; 6)
  • Hazardous substances (3)
  • Work in an industrial or institutional setting (1C)
  • Continuing project (7)

Certain areas of human research are exempt from Institutional Review Board (IRB) review. Research of students under 18 would not need Form 2 (Qualified Scientist) or Form 4B (Informed Consent) for the following:

  • Research conducted in established settings (1) involving normal education practices, (2) research on individual or group behavior where the investigator does not manipulate the subjects' behavior and the research does not involve stress to subjects;
  • Research involving observation of legal public behavior;
  • Research involving collection or study of existing publicly available data.

Each participating high school is asked to establish its own SRC. The school SRC must include a science teacher; a school administrator; and one more member who could be a physician, registered nurse, psychologist, or psychiatrist. In the case of human behavioral research, the body must become an Institutional Review Board; the third member MUST be a psychologist or psychiatrist. Feel free to contact the ESF SEF if you have questions concerning this process.

The ESF SEF is most fortunate that Binghamton University's Institutional Review Board recruited the people required for an ISEF-approved SRC as well, and has agreed to review projects for the ESF SEF. This means that if your school has not been able to establish an IRB or your work is not under the auspices of a public/private/parochial school or research institution, Binghamton University's SRC/IRB can serve in that capacity. SUNY ESF thanks Binghamton University most sincerely for this crucial service.

Again, contact the ESF SEF immediately concerning already-completed projects.


Tips for Entrants

The Scientific Method: Scientists follow this method for research projects.

Purpose: Why are you doing your project? What is the question you want to answer? What is the problem you are trying to solve?

Hypothesis: What do you think your experiment will do? What do you want to prove?


  1. Research: Background information on your experiment
  2. Experimentation:
    • Collect data
    • Compare data with theoretical results or a controlled experiment
    • Compare data with hypothesis
    • Keep accurate records
  3. Results: What data did you collect? What are the most important facts you learned from the project?
  4. Conclusion: What do your results mean? Can you compare your results to anything else you know? Do your results give you any ideas for future projects.


The Project

State your purpose simply and clearly. One of the best ways to state your purpose is in the form of a question your experiment will answer. You need to give a clear, simple, concise picture of what you plan to do. Write out the purpose. HINT: Ask a few adults whose judgment you trust to read it and see if each understands your purpose.


Read first to gather background information for your project. Document material taken from books, magazine, pamphlets, newspapers, videos, television, people and the Internet. Record the title and author or name of the author; date it was published or broadcast; and company (e.g., publisher, TV station, website address, video producer). HINT: This is your bibliography.

What do authorities say about your project? Ask them, but do it AFTER you have learned enough about your project to ask intelligent or appropriate questions. These people are usually very interested in your work and may give you advice to help with your project. HINT: You can find these people at local companies, hospitals, colleges and universities, and professional organizations.


This is the heart of your project. Plan your experiments carefully. Get approval from an adult before beginning your experiment, even if you are doing it at home. Accurately record all results. An important part of doing experiments is to be able to make accurate comparisons. HINT: Whenever possible, use a duplicate set-up called a CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT. Create another set-up just like the one you are using, except for the one factor you are testing. This way, you can compare one thing at a time. Controlled experiments are often used in research projects.

Exhibit Requirements

An project exhibit requires an abstract, visuals (example - exhibit board), a written report with documentation of your research and bibliography, and an oral presentation (about three or four minutes). The maximum space allowed for each exhibit is 48 inches wide by 30 inches deep by 72 inches high (above table top). Photos can be taken of any part of the exhibit that does not fit in this space and included in the display. Many students will be exhibiting their projects at the fair. Be sure to bring all the supplies you need, including tape, scissors, markers, extension cords and AV equipment. LABEL EVERYTHING with your own name and your school's name. Have your written report and several copies of your abstract available. Be prepared to explain your project and answer questions about your project and sources of information (in your bibliography). Be prepared to be at your exhibit until all judging is done. Leave a note at your exhibit if you have to leave the area during judging (e.g., to use the rest rooms).

Sharing Your Accomplishments

Your display, abstract (a summary of your project, usually one paragraph) and your ability to talk and answer questions about your project are very important. Practice talking about your project with other people. Judges are very interested in what you are doing and are willing to listen to your explanations. Don't be afraid to ask them questions. This will make you more comfortable during the very important question and answer phase of judging. For some projects, it is easier to explain your results by making charts or illustrations of what happened. HINT: Photographs of your project can be very useful. They can supply data and proof that you have a project, just in case it blows up the day before it is due or the plants you fed special chemicals to decide to die. Be sure, though, that you acknowledge the photographer in your display.

Be Prepared! HAVE FUN!

A reason people become scientists is that doing research and talking to others about it is fun!



Judging is conducted in two phases. In the first phase, all exhibits are judged. Judges independently visit each exhibit assigned to their team, examine the projects and interview the students. Each exhibit should take 15 minutes or less. Be brief (2-4 minutes) with your presentation so you have time for questions. At the end of the first phase, the judging teams meet to determine which projects are to be promoted to the second phase. The second phase begins with a brief meeting of the judging team captains where the results of the first phase are reviewed and the second phase of interviews are organized. The team captains visit the second phase exhibits as a group. After the visits are complete, the team captains meet to determine the award winners.



ESF SEF Participation Certificates are given to all students in recognition for their effort in developing research and creating an exhibit.

ESF SEF Awards

One third to one half of the actual competition exhibits will receive an ESF SEF award. Three levels of ESF SEF awards are given based on the following criteria:

  • Honors: The student has made an above-average effort in demonstrating a scientific principle.
  • High Honors: The student shows a good understanding of scientific methodologies. The exhibit, oral presentation and research paper show well-above-average effort, attention to detail, and level of interest.
  • Highest Honors: The student shows a clear, in-depth understanding of scientific methodologies. The exhibit, oral presentation and research paper show superior effort, attention to detail, and level of interest.
  • Grand Awards: The first and second place exhibitors will represent our region as Finalists at the International Science & Engineering Fair in Indianapolis. Third place will serve as the alternate, in case one of the Finalists cannot attend ISEF. SUNY-ESF covers all the expenses for the week-long trip in May.

Special Awards

Several organizations present their own awards to students in a variety of categories. These awards are based on the organization's own criteria. A separate set of judges select special award winners.

The ESF SEF features over $30,000 in merit scholarships from SUNY-ESF and Albany College of Pharmacy. In addition, we will offer commendations and other awards from:

  • American Meteorological Society
  • American Psychological Association
  • ASM International Foundation
  • Association for Women Geoscientists
  • Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association
  • Intel
  • International Society for Optical Engineering
  • The NACE Foundation
  • National Society of Professional Engineers
  • Scientific American
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • U.S. Metric Association
  • United States Air Force
  • United States Army
  • United States Navy and Marine Corps
  • Water Environment Federation and ITT Industries
  • Yale Science & Engineering Association