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 ISEF Form 3


Students planning research involving hazards OF ANY SORT--BIOLOGICAL AND/OR NON-BIOLOGICAL--and in some cases, HUMAN PARTICIPANTS must, before starting any experiments, COMPLY with the rules and guidelines of the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Check specifically pages 15-21. 


1. In general any project which...   

…involves hazardous materials, activities, or devices must include Form 3.  This includes:

  • potentially dangerous activities, such working in a lab or igniting objects
  • any chemical such as household cleaning agents, solvents, metals or organic chemicals
  • model rockets, lasers, radiation, or anything else that might be considered dangerous or hazardous
  • NOTE: consumable alcohol distillation, cigarettes/tobacco products, loading/reloading ammunition are PROHIBITED in GSDSEF projects.
  • …involves biohazards must include Form 3. This includes: 

    • mold or other fungus, bacteria, virus. anything that can make you sick? BACTERIA MUST BE GROWN IN SCHOOL OR RESEARCH LAB
    • samples collected from the environment? MAY BE COLLECTED AT HOME BUT NOT GROWN ON AGAR PLATES AT HOME
    • DNA from one organism inserted into the DNA of another organism
    • anything coming from a human or animal body? (for example: cheek cells, teeth, bone, fluids such as blood, saliva, urine)
    • NO organisms may be grown on blood agar or "chocolate" (cooked blood) plates



2. Become familiar with International Science and Engineering Fair Rules and Guidelines. (ISEF) Rules and Guidelines—Hazards.

3. Download, read, and complete ISEF Form 3: Risk Assessment. Your adult supervisor should help you complete this form. 

4. A teacher shall serve as advisor for the project in which case he/she assumes primary responsibility for the project. If there is no teacher, a Designated Supervisor or Adult Sponsor must provide certification that safety guidelines are followed.  An adult signature is required on ISEF Risk Assessment Form 3.


5. Answer the questions on Form 3- Risk Assessment with the help of your supervisor.  

Question 1. Identify, assess, and then describe the risks and/or hazards in your project.

Question 2.

2a: Give a detailed list of the chemicals or devices, and a detailed description of the activities you are doing--the procedure. 

Question 2b: List the scientific name of the microorganisms you are using unless they are exempt from pre-approval.  See rules in Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents- Page 17 of ISEF Guidelines for Science and Engineering Fairs for exemptions.

Question 3. Describe the safety precautions you will take to reduce the risks. For chemicals it would be a good idea to look up the MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheet.  These are available online from various chemical supply companies. Consult at least 2 MSDSs before describing your precautions with chemicals. 

Question 4. Your description of disposal procedures for bacteria or toxic chemicals must be detailed. Again, a good source for the proper disposal of chemicals would be the MSDS.  Bacterial cultures must be autoclaved or sterilized for a minimum of 60 minutes at 15psi and a temperature of 121Co. The sterilized bacterial cultures can be disposed of in regular trash.  Alternatively, the bacterial cultures can be  placed in a 10% bleach solution in plastic baggies, double sealed, and disposed of through the regular trash. 

Question 5. If you have used MSDSs or any other source material such as journal articles to describe your procedure, safety precautions, or disposal procedures, list them here.  They must include the name of the source, and the url if you got it from the internet. 


6. Depending on where the research is conducted, and whether biological agents/tissues are involved, additional forms may be  required:

     Form 1C: Regulated Research Institution

     Form 2: Qualified Scientist  

     Form 6A: Biohazardous Agents

     Form 6B: Human and Vertebrate Tissues


     Forms and Signatures Required for SRC Upload

  • If research is conducted at a middle or high school with a teacher advisor:
    •  ISEF Form 3
    •  Teacher/Advisor signature on Form 3
    •  ISEF Form 6A or 6B if needed


  • If research is conducted at a Regulated Research Institution:
    • ISEF Form 3
    • Supervising scientist signature on ISEF Form 3 
    • Qualified Scientist Form 2
    • ISEF Form 6A or 6B if needed


  • If research is conducted at a middle or high school with scientist training/supervision:
    • ISEF Form 3
    • If another adult is trained: Designated Supervisor signature on Form 3
    • Qualified Scientist signature on Form 3 if scientist is supervising
    • Qualified Scientist Form 2 
    • ISEF Form 6A or 6B if needed


  • If research is conducted at home: The parent/guardian must already be trained in Hazards Control or be trained by a Qualified Scientist:
    • ISEF Form 3
    • Parent/Guardian signs as Designated Supervisor if trained by Qualified Scientist
    • Qualified Scientist Form 2
    • Samples collected from the environment MAY BE COLLECTED AT HOME BUT NOT GROWN ON AGAR PLATES AT HOME


Submit the Risk Assessment Form 3 with the SRC Pre-Approval Form to the GSDSEF Scientific Review Committee (SRC) for approval. If the student project requires ISEF Form 2 to be completed, submit this form with SRC Pre-Approval Form and Risk Assessment Form 3. If biological agents/tissues are involved, then Forms 6A or 6B must be included. 


International Science and Engineering Fair Rules and Guidelines

The Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair (GSDSEF) adheres to and complies with the Safety Rules and Guidelines of the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Refer to ISEF Rules and Guidelines, Hazards, for questions regarding general safety and specifically rules pertaining to Hazards.


GSDSEF Rules and Regulations

Projects involving tobacco; tobacco products; smokeless powder; black powder; explosives; the manufacture of rocket fuel and/or alcohol/other intoxicants or gasohol (or the production of these), are prohibited by the GSDSEF.