Skip to main content




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


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. 


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. 


Video Link Below

VIDEO LINK: Comparing Science and Engineering Projects  - GSDSEF video series



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. Remember, even one change you make to an existing procedure/protocol makes it your own!  


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 my project unique in at least one aspect, or has it been done before exactly? 
  • Is my project an experiment/investigation or is it a demonstration of principle?
  • Is the answer to my question already known? 
  • Will my investigation add something new 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?
Video Link Below

VIDEO LINK: Projects to Avoid - GSDSEF video series


Tutorials on how to make a project your own: 

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 if Additional ISEF Forms need to be completed before beginning. All projects requiring Additional ISEF Forms  must be reviewed and approved by the GSDSEF Scientific Review Committee (SRC) BEFORE STARTING with experimentation. 

For further information on which Additional ISEF forms are needed, go to the How to Participate Page--Table 4B or the GSDSEF Rules page to access the Rules and Guidelines and How to Complete the Additional 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. 




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.


UPDATED 2020: Use the GSDSEF Sample Student Notebook as a template to produce a quality science fair notebook. The sample notebook contains a description, directions, and example for each section.  It also includes a checklist and timeline to ensure each section is completed in a timely manner.


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  Size and Safety 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:

Judging Standards (90.74 KB)

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!)

NEW  (Oct. 30, 2023) A Kid's Guide to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning  Resource submitted by E. Williams and Amelia

Science Resources 

Math Resources 

Coding Websites and Apps for Students (New! Added April 22, 2024)

Computer Science Resources 

SmartAdvocate: Software Programming and Coding Glossary for Kids

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

Science Now

Smithsonian - Science/Nature

Info Please

Neuroscience for Kids 

Chegg Learn - Learn about specific topics with definitions, explanations, and illustrations



Activities, Games, and Resources

Tinkering, Simple Electronics, Simple Machines, Engineering, and Coding

Engineering Games and Activities - Includes descriptions of Engineering fields (NEW - added September 2022)

Free STEM Activities and Resources for Kids (NEW - added September 2022)

Try Engineering - Learn about the different Engineering fields. This site includes resources, games, activities, lesson plans for teachers, and more (NEW - added September 2022)


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.