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Coriell Science Fair Teacher & Student Guide Rev S 092410 Table of Contents The Basics for the Project & the Science Part 1: Who may Participate Part 2: How to Participate Part 3: The Science Part 4: Doing the Project Part 5: Judging, Awards, & Advancement

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Coriell Science Fair

Teacher & Student Guide

Rev S 092410


Table of Contents

The Basics for the Project & the Science

Part 1: Who may Participate

Part 2: How to Participate

Part 3: The Science

Part 4: Doing the Project

Part 5: Judging, Awards, & Advancement

Help with Rules: Getting Paperwork Done & Approved

Part 6: ISEF Forms & Rules

Part 7: Common Problems Basic Forms

Part 8: Common Problems Risk Forms

part 1 who may participate
Part 1: Who May Participate
  • Students in 6th through 12th grades
  • 2. Attend school in Burlington, Camden or Gloucester Co.
  • 3. Students with adult sponsorship: teachers, home-school parents, qualified non-school adult mentors
  • If your school does not have a teacher available to you:
    • Students with outside adult sponsors may participate
  • If your school has a science fair:
  • Your school decides who may participate - including
  • if students not in the science fair may participate
  • 6. Individual projects or team, projects
  • Teams are limited to 3 students
  • Projects and continuations of previous projects must have
  • been started after January 1, 2010.
  • 8. One project only per student
student research categories
Student Research Categories

Behavioral & Social Engineering

Biochemistry Environmental

Botany Math

Chemistry Medicine & Health

Computers Microbiology

Consumer Science* Physics

Earth & Space Zoology


* Consumer science is 6th-8th grade only)

basic parts of a science project
Basic Parts of a Science Project

3. Write report

2. Do the


keep journal

4. Make Abstract

1. Plan


& submit


5. Create



scientific method experimentally testing a hypothesis
Scientific Method: Experimentally Testing a Hypothesis

Plan your experiment to :

Ask a question

Include a hypothesis of what will happen

A method to test the hypothesis

To recognize constants

To recognize variables

To manipulate some variables

To include positive and negative controls

To repeat tests ≥ 3 times (N ≥ 3)

To present results in tables and charts

To analyze data and draw conclusions

To discuss the conclusions: Was hypothesis correct ?

To know what could be done next

These are all things judges are looking for !

choosing a topic
Choosing a Topic

“What is the effect of __A__


on __B__


measured by __C__


when __D__(is constant)


An educated guess

Should be reasonable, but not necessarily correct

Crystals will be larger when evaporation is slower. (Positive action)

Red classroom wall color will make student test scores lower. (Negative action)

Soil temperature will not affect plant growth. (No action)

choosing a topic12
Variables to be measured might include

irrigation / drought

more mass / less mass

angle of launch

sunlight / dark

color of light


type of substrate

Kinds of measurements

length / height

color change

speed / velocity




use numbers

There must be something to measure

Choosing a Topic

Are things that stay the same because:

You hold them constant

So only 1 variable is tested at a time

They are physically invariant

Light speed = 671 million mph

Liquid Nitrogen is -196C



Are things you manipulate

Things that change in response



Manipulated/Independent: weight on car

Observed/Dependent: distance, speed

  • Are things to which you compare your results

Negative Control(untreated): In comparing which toothpaste works best it is:

Positive Control(treated with something known to work very well): In determining which color light makes plants grow better it is:

Brushing your teeth with water


  • “N” is the number of times you test something
  • “N” should be 3 or more.
  • Conclusions drawn from only one trial are often incorrect.
why repeat experiments
Why Repeat Experiments ?

Which Rots Faster: Potatoes or Tomatoes ?

If N=1 itsTomatoes, If N =3 its Potatoes

part 4 doing the project
Part 4: Doing The Project

Doing the Experiment

Collecting Data

Writing a Report

Writing the Abstract

Making a Poster


Do the Experiment

Don’t Start until you have SRC (Coriell Or Reg, Inst.Approval

Repeat observations

Take photos

Engineers should build and test a prototype

Test one variable at a time

Collect Data

Write everything down in a log book

Use a new page per day

Keep everything in one original book

Make tables of numbers

Write a Report

Title page, table of contents

Introduction with some background, hypothesis

Experiment, materials & methods

Data (charts & graphs)

Discussion and Conclusion

Acknowledgments and References


Write an Abstract

The abstract is the most important part because it tells judges what your project is about before going deeper

Keep it Short (250 words or less)

Purpose : Why you did the experiment

Procedure : How you did the experiment

Result: What you found out

Conclusions: What you learned from the experiment

Where to Put Abstracts:

Put full name, school and project title on one copy and send copy to Coriell when project completed

Put First name only and title on display copies (No last name or school)

Mount one copy to your poster

Place 12 additional copies on bench for judges to take

create poster
Self Standing Poster Board

Be creative, artful (color and texture)

Neatness demonstrates effort and care

Use large font (16-20) for easy judge reading

Credit graphs/photos

Use flow charts or outlines for methods

(leave extensive details in your reports)

Typical order:

Left: Abstract and Introduction

Middle Data and Charts

Right: Discussion and Conclusions, Form 1C

Create Poster
display safety
Keep display within size limits

(30 inches deep, 4 feet wide, 9 feet tall from floor)

No liquids (except water integral to a sealed apparatus)

No sharps

Do not have anything or parts of anything alive or that has ever been alive : Use Photos

No human or animal food

No chemicals or drugs

No flames

No photographs of surgeries

No awards, medals, endorsements or advertisements

Display Safety


Format in same order

as a scientific paper

Judges have

5-10 min to read.

Include diagrams

& flow charts

in methods

Use 14-16 Point font

to make it easy

to read quickly

Keep it short and

to the point

In discussion


Significance of results

What you would do

If it didn’t work

What you would do

if you could continue

the experiment



(250 words)




Graphs, Photos


& Background

Discussion & Conclusions

Materials & Methods

Loose Abstracts for Judges to Take (12)

Log Book


graphs and photos
Graphs and Photos
  • Your abstract and graphs, and photos communicate the most about your project to the judges !
  • Key Graph and Photograph Flaws Absent Title

Unlabeled Axes (Titles or units of measurement)

Absent Legends

Absent credits for who took photos or source

Helpful Graph Components

N= (stating how may times you repeated a data point)

Error bars

effect of uv filters on plant growth
Effect of UV Filters on Plant Growth

N = 6

Plant Mass (Gm)

Time (Days)

  • Students present their work as a poster
    • Judges preview poster without students, then
    • Interview / Oral presentation, Q&A
  • 80% of professional presentations are posters
  • Science Fairs are excellent preparation professional presentations
part 5 judging awards advancement suggested judging criteria
Part 5: Judging, Awards, & Advancement Suggested Judging Criteria
  • Originality & Creativity (New to student within limits)
  • Utility (Engineering, Applied research opposed to basic)
  • Clarity (Communication skill, Graphs, Tables etc.)
  • Essential Components (Logs, controls, variables, N > 1)
  • Skill (Innate and learned ability)
  • Thoughtfulness (Understands, Problem Solving, What Next)
  • Initiative & Effort (Independent, Seeks Resources, Work ethic)
  • Teamwork (Leadership, Equal effort, Equal understanding)


  • Full or partial scholarships to County Colleges
  • Bonds for $100 - $300
  • Advancement to DVSF / ISEF
advancement to dvsf
Advancement to DVSF
  • Individual Students 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th Grades

1st & 2nd Places

  • Individual Students 6-8th Grades Combined

1st, 2nd & 3rd Places

  • Teams 9th–12th Grades Combined &
  • Teams 6th-8th Grades Combined

1st & 2nd Places


Why do we want this ?

ISEF forms only request

student address, phone,

and email for projects

done at home

Teams often leave the

names of all members

off some ISEF forms

Students sometime use

initials or nicknames.

Student’s names are very

often illegible, and we

want to get it right for our

program book , certificates

of participation, awards

database, and DVSF/ISEF

need help isef rules wizard
Need Help: ISEF Rules Wizard

Is a useful aid in completing ISEF forms and determining:

Which forms are required

If a qualified scientist or designated supervisor is needed

If work must be done at a regulated organization

In addition, you may email or phone Coriell:

Gary H. Butler, Ph.D.

(856) 757-9716

basic paperwork for all projects
Basic Paperwork for All Projects

Coriell Student Contact Form

Teachersensure student address and phone are filled in, and student names are LEGIBLE . This is needed for Coriell’s program book and advancement to DVSF.

  • Student Checklist (1A) & Research Plan
  • Studentscomplete
    • Checklist for Adult Sponsor (1)
  • Teachers review proposals carefully, ensure boxes for
  • additional forms are checked in section 4 & 6, & sign
  • Approval Form (1B)
  • Students & parents must sign top part of and
  • check acknowledgement boxes for risks and rules
  • School or Coriell IRBsigns box 2A if human subjects involved
  • Only Coriellsigns box 2A & 2B for all other risk projects, &
  • Regulated Inst. must provide copies of their approval forms

Extra Paperwork Required for Some Projects

(When in doubt, fill it out)

Form 1C:Work done in a Regulated Lab or Industry

(Submitted after project is complete and put on student poster)

Form 2:Needed when risk, human, controlled drugs or

animals require a qualified scientist / supervisor

Form 3:Needed for physical and chemical risks and for non- pathogenic* microorganisms . * Protists (Paramecia etc.)

Archae (non-pathogenic extremophiles often also in soil or oceans)

Not needed for “exempt” microorganisms unless put into culture

Form 4:Needed whenever humans are the subject of

experiments (excluding strangers in a non-modified environment

or review of anonymous records). School or* Coriell IRB may sign.

* Having Coriell serve as your IRB is a new option in 2011.

Informed Consent / Assent / Parental Permission:Needed for all projects when humans are the subject of experiments. ISEF provides an example form that can be used as is.


Form 5A:Needed for all non-human vertebrates studies done at

a non-regulated institute not involving interaction,

intrusiveness, or invasiveness in the most conservative

interpretation. Coriell SRC pre-approval required.

Form 5B:Needed for all non-human vertebrates studies done at a

regulated institute. Coriell verification of Reg. Institute

SRC approval required.

Form 6A:Needed for potentially pathogenic bacteria or sources of

bacteria, rDNA, tissue, blood, and body fluids ‘

Also required if you submit Form 6B (Tissue)

Form 6B:Required for human or vertebrate tissue, cell cultures,

blood and body fluids. Must also submit Form 6A.

2011: No longer needed for “grocery store” tissue.

Form 7:Required for projects continued from previous years

paperwork accuracy completeness
Paperwork Accuracy & Completeness

1. The Coriell SRC requires and assumes

that teachers and adult sponsors are capable

of completing most aspects of the 4 to 14 ISEF

forms that may be required.

2. It is important that the student(s) names and project title are repeated on every form

3. Incorrectly completed forms or absent forms may delay approval of your project

4. There are, however, some areas on most forms that may require some instruction to complete correctly.

part 7 common problems with basic forms that may get project approval delayed
Part 7: Common Problems with Basic Forms that May Get Project Approval Delayed

If the following pages are not enough

(856) 757-9716

ISEF Rules Wizard:


Not Legible, Team Members Missing

Title not filled in

Boxes not Checked

Very Common Omissions

Boxes not checked

Wrong boxes Checked

Forms 3-6 for checked boxes missing






Start Date

On Student Checklist

Form 1A Line 6



Missing information


Missing / illegible


Required by DVSF/ISEF

Missing / illegible


For ALL projects: Start must be AFTER adult sponsor approval

date on Form 1 Checklist for adult sponsor

For “regulated” projects (involving forms 1B, 1C & 3->6) - i.e. those requiring Coriell or Regulated Institute Scientific Review Committee (SRC/IRB) approval :

Start date must also be AFTER date of approval


Need Separate form for each team member

Dates must be before actual

start date on form 1A line 6

NEW !!! For human subjects, EITHER School IRB or CoriellIRB signs.

ONLY Coriell SRC signs

for risk projects NOT involving human subjects.

Coriell signs here if

project done at a

Regulated Inst.

(form 1C & Reg. Inst.

approval paperwork

also needed

Section Reserved for DVSF


Very Common Error: Absent full name and project title on plan submitted to Coriell. Leave last name off plan posted on your board

  • The basic components of Research Plan are:
  • State the question being asked or the problem to be solved
  • B. Hypothesis: What do you thing the outcome may be
  • C. Methods:
  • Clearly and completely describe all procedures
  • Flow diagrams linking details of methods work well
  • Include methods of data analysis
  • (Simple statistics such as averages and errors are a plus)
  • Bibliography:
  • Five references are needed.
  • Scientific articles, internet pages, books , etc.
  • If vertebrate animals are used an animal care ref. Is needed
  • Humans, animals and risks: Consult the detailed instructions on the research plan instructions and in the ISEF rule book pages –
  • Humans (pg 13), Animals (pg 17), Biohazards (pg 21), Physical and Chemical hazards (pg 25)

Submit a research

plan you create,

not a copy of this

instruction page

part 8 common problems with risk forms that may get project approval delayed
Part 8: Common Problems with Risk Forms that May Get Project Approval Delayed

If the following pages are not enough

(856) 757-9716

ISEF Rules Wizard:


Physical, Chemical, & Non-Pathogenic Microbe Risks

Be conservative: When in doubt, fill it out !

Examples where Form 3 is OK

Sealed coliform water test kits

Manure composting w/o culture

Paramecia, amoeba, rotifers etc.

List if it could : Explode, Corrode, Burn, Cut,

Blind, Smash, Electrocute, Poison, Catch fire, etc.

e.g. lawnmovers, fuel cells, herbicides, insecticides, lasers, acids, bases, organic chemicals, UV lights, trebuchets, rockets, etc.

Use Form 3 for NON-pathogenic microorganisms that are NOT culturedon media

Do NOT use Form 3 (Use form 6A) when any microorganisms are cultured on media

(because contaminating pathogens can grow up)

Do NOT use Form 3 (Use form 6A) for potentially bio-hazardous agents or agent sources

exempt microorganism studies see isef rules pg 13 line 13a
“Exempt” Microorganism Studies(See ISEF Rules Pg 13, Line 13A)
  • Studies using the following can be started prior to SRC review and do not require SRC approval, and do not require form 3, or 6A:
  • Bakers yeast that is /does :
  • NOTGrown on culture media (then you need Form 3 or 6A & prior approval)
  • NOTInvolve recombinant DNA (then you need Form 3 or 6A & prior approval)
  • Mold growth on food that is terminated upon first evidence of mold
  • If you let it grow, (then you need Form 3 or 6A & prior approval)
  • Studies involving *“exempt” *microbes that are :
  • NOT Grown on culture media (then you need Form 3 or 6A & prior approval)
  • * Exempt organism list:
  • Lactobacillus species
  • Bacillus thurgensis
  • Algae-Eating bacteria
  • Slime Mold
  • Nitrogen-Fixing bacteria
  • Oil-Eating bacteria
  • Neither Form 3 nor Form 6A is needed if you project is “Exempt” , BUT !!!
  • Caution: Be very careful !!! If you make the wrong choice, you project can be disqualified
bio safety level supervision

The Coriell and/or Regulated Institute SRC will determine the bio-safety level.

Form 6 is required for all projects at BSL-1 and BSL-2

BSL-1 is required if you culture “exempt” microorganism (excluding yeast in cooking)

BSL-1 is allowed if:

You use BSL-1 organisms, seal cultures, and do not open the culture after incubation

BSL-2 is required:

If you open a plate or broth after culturing ANY microorganism

If you use a BSL-2 organism

A designated supervisor (DS) or qualified scientist (QS) is REQUIRED for:

Biosafety Level-2 organism and potential sources of them (blood, tissue)

(MRSE and VRE now permitted at BSL-2 with Qualified Scientist supervision)

BSL-3 and BSL-4 organisms are prohibited

More Info:

Bio-Safety Level & Supervision

Forms 6A: Biohazards

You need this form (6A)

in addition to Form 6B if you

are using tissue. Body fluids,

or tissue cultures

Student describes

project details


Describes student training &

Signs for concurrence

Coriell SRC approves

Before starting

& assigns BSL level

Coriellde facto review of Reg. Inst. Pre-approval &

Reg. Inst. Forms that MUST be attached to ISEF forms

Projects without these Reg. Inst. forms will be disqualified

form 6b tissue
Form 6B: Tissue

Form (6B) I needed for tissue, body fluids , or tissue cultures.

6A is also required if you submit 6B.

2011: Form 6B is no longer required for animal “food-tissue” purchased in a grocery store

But: If you culture animal “food-tissue” Form 6A Potential Biohazards is required

QS/DS Certification

of tissue source

and Blood-borne

pathogen procedures

human subjects studies that are exempt from irb approval form 4 not required
Human Subjects Studies that are Exempt from IRB Approval (Form 4 NOT required)
  • Only ANONYMOUS data collection &
  • ONLY the following:
    • Normal educational practices
    • No manipulation of subjects behavior
    • No gathering of personal information
    • No potential invasion of privacy
    • No potential for emotional distress
    • No physical activity > ordinary daily life
  • IRB approval is NOT Exempt for: Eating, tasting, smelling, any exercise, medical
  • procedures, applications of cosmetics, tests with names on them or oral exams,
  • posting signs, placing objects in environment (e.g. dropping a penny on the floor & seeing who
  • picks it up), emotional stress (e.g. even asking if someone prefers cheeseburgers to broccoli)
  • Recommendation: Get IRB approval for just about anything.
special interpretation form 4
Special Interpretation: Form 4
  • School IRB decisions will generally be accepted, BUT
  • Coriell may over-rule the school IRB decisions if:
  • The school IRB’s waiver appears to have compromised the subject’s right to
      • A. Privacy
      • Freedom from physical risk
      • Freedom from emotional distress

Form 4 is NOT an informed

Consent/Assent form.

That is a separate form

Very Common Error !!!

Student checking boxes

is not a substitute for next section

IRB can be a

school nurse,


and a science

teacher OR see below.

Very Common Error !!!

IRB signs below, student checks

boxes in above section but IRB

does not check boxes here

  • NEW!!!
  • Coriell can serve as the IRB if
  • Your school can’t
  • You are a home-schooler
  • You are an adult sponsor
  • for a non-participating school

NOT YOU (Adult Sponsor can’t be the

IRB educator due to conflict of interest)


Informed Consent/Assent Handling

Suggested: Use this sample form

Alternative: School IRB or Regulated

Institute IRBs can use their own

KEEP a form with both

top and bottom

complete for EVERY

subject to provide

upon request at Fair

as proof consents

were obtained


ONE example with

top complete &

bottom blank

(HIPAA protection of subjects)


All vertebrate animal

projects require

pre-approval on

Form 5A or Form 5B

Alternatives to vertebrate

animal research are

strongly encouraged


For work at a NON-regulated site

Form 5A is applicable when there is NO:

Interaction with student

Invasiveness or intrusion

Exceptions:/Exemptions (5A /B & SRC pre-approval not needed)

Livestock using only standard agricultural practices

Capture and release of fish (no wildlife office approval needed)

Strictly observational studies (e.g. 0bserving in zoos w/o interaction)

Everything else requires working at a regulated Institute & Form 5B


Coriell SRC will determine

if a DS,QS, Vet are required

If a QS/SC is required,

they must

Check & sign here

Coriell can require

Form 2 with additional QS/DS

signatures if felt needed


For work at a Regulated site

  • APPLICABILITY of Form 5B: when there IS:
  • Interaction, Invasiveness or intrusion
  • Vertebrate eggs /embryos within 3 days of hatching / birth (except fish = 5B only after hatch)
  • PROHIBITEDStudies:
  • Employ toxic substances
      • Study pain
  • Involve conditioning with aversive stimuli
  • Predator /Vertebrate -prey experiments
  • Weight loss of > 15%
  • Food of water restriction > 18 hrs
  • Morbidity rate of > 30%



Form 2 (Qualified Scientist) is required

Forms 6A & 6B are needed f studies involve tissue

Documentation of student training

A Qualified Scientist / Principal Investigator and Form 2

*IACUC approval letter (letters from PI / QS are NOT acceptable)

*( Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee)


Form 7 is needed when students expand upon a

previous year’s or years’ project(s) to demonstrate

it is significantly advanced