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For the GSDSEF Rules and Regulations and all certification forms, please go to the Student:How to Participate page.

Here is a guide and resource to help you through each step of the Science Fair process: 

The following resources will also provide you with valuable information to help you decide which type of project you would like to do and how to have a successful project. (This section is still being developed.)

Section A: Deciding on what Type of Project: Science, Engineering, Mathematics, or Computer Science

Section B: Getting Project Ideas/Designing a Unique Project

Section C: Deciding Which Forms are Needed Before Starting a Project

Section D: Resources on How to Design and Conduct a Science or Engineering Project

Section E: Resources for Background Research/Articles

Section F: Publishing Your Project in Scientific Journals

Section A: Deciding on what Type of Project: Science, Engineering, Mathematics, or Computer Science

Look at the Student Guides to differentiate between Science Research and Non-Inquiry based Research. Some areas of research are based on the scientific method, but since engineers, inventors, and computer programmers have different objectives than those of other scientists, they follow a different process. 


Section B: Getting Project Ideas

If you aren’t sure what kind of project you would like to work on, there are several sites that can help with ideas…HOWEVER…YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE THE PROJECT UNIQUE AND YOUR OWN! Whatever you come up with, “Google” it to make sure it is not a “been there-done that” project.


Links to other successful project ideas...Again, these projects are NOT to be repeated or copied!!! They are to give you some ideas...


Consider these questions as you come up with a project idea:

  • Is this project truly original, or has it been done before? 
  • Is this project an experiment/investigation or is it a demonstration?
  • Is the answer to my question already known? 
  • Will my investigation add significantly to what is known about the topic? 
  • How much time will it take to conduct my research? Will I be able to meet all of the deadlines? Will it look like I did it in one day?
  • Are my results measurable (using the metric system) or is it only based on observation?


Tutorials on how to make a project your own: 

Designing Your Own Project by Science-fair-coach

Strategies for an Original Science Fair Project from Scientific American


Section C: Deciding on What Forms Are Required

You’ve decided on a project but you’re not sure what forms need to be completed before beginning. Some projects require the Scientific Review Committee (SRC) approval first and certain forms to be completed. To find out if you need these forms, use the

or  the ISEF Wizard. (This site asks a series of questions about your planned project and will provide a list of forms that you will need to complete. Please use the GSDSEF forms on the How to Participate page, not the ISEF forms.)

Your teacher/advisor can help you with the SRC pre-approval and make sure you have any necessary forms completed.

If you have questions or are unsure concerning a project's acceptability, please have your teacher/advisor contact the Scientific Review Committee by using the Contact Us online.

  • Note: due to geographic regions and state/local rules, GSDSEF reserves the right to prohibit projects that use dangerous items that may be considered acceptable in ISEF.

For complete information of the GSDSEF Rules and Regulations:


All FORMS may be found on the How to Participate page

Section D: Resources on Conducting a Successful Science or Engineering Project


Do you need help with the scientific method or following the Engineering principles to design and work on your project? The following resources will help you with the information on working through your project.

Getting Started on a Science Fair Project- Discovery Education

Using the Scientific Method - Science Buddies

Using the Engineering Method - Science Buddies

How to do a Science Fair Project video series from JPL/NASA

A Student Science Series of articles on how to achieve excellence in independent research from the Society of Science

Keeping a Logbook (Janice VanCleave)


Projects need to use SI (International System of Units: metric measurements, ampere, kelvin, etc.) and data tables/charts and graphs need to be clearly labeled. The following resources will help you with conversions and in creating charts/tables and graphs using Excel spreadsheets:

Metric Conversion Calculator 

Metric Conversion Calculator 

Convert Me: Basic, Engineering, and Computer Conversions

Graphing Tutorial website


How to Write an Abstract:

How to Write an Intel ISEF Abstract

Writing Abstracts (from the University of  North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Writing a Science Fair Abstract from Write A Writing



This link takes you to the page for the requirements, do's and don'ts of putting together your project display board, and sample  board layouts.


What are Judges Looking for in the Projects:

See also Guidelines for Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics Projects in Section A for specific criteria.

How to Answer the 5 Most Common Questions Science Fair Judges Ask (Scientific American blog)

Section E: Resources for Background Research/Articles


Do you need information on specific topics for your project. The sites below has a library of articles that can be used for background research or just to learn more about science, math, and/or technology:

(Don't forget to cite your sources in your project!)

Science Resources 

Math Resources 

Computer Science Resources 

Science News for Students

Find Articles from CBS

Science Daily – Your source for latest research

Resources from NASA: Grades 9-12

Resources from NASA: Grades 5- 8

US Geological Survey - Research

US Geological Survey - Earthquakes for Kids

Mosaic Magazine Science Articles Archive (1970 - 1992)

Science Now

Smithsonian - Science/Nature

Info Please

Neuroscience for Kids 

Tinkering, Simple Electronics, Simple Machines, Engineering, and Coding - Activities and Resources


Section F: Publishing Your Project in Scientific Journals



The National High School Journal of Science

Journal of Emerging Investigators

The Journal of Experimental Secondary Science

Young Scientists Journal 

Journal of Youth in Science (JOURNYS)

Workshops presented by the Student Leadership Board (SLB) are available to help you through the process. Sign up for one of these invaluable workshops, or if you were unable to attend, check out their powerpoint presentations.