Distributed Block - View: Magazine: Latest Cover

cover of May 30, 2015 issue

Affiliated Fair Guidelines

Requirements for being an SSP-Affiliate Fair

New affiliations

Before affiliating with Intel ISEF, fairs must have been in operation for at least one year in which they had a functioning Scientific Review Committee to review and approve student research. This requirement is to help ensure that new fairs are an effective and sustainable educational activity before becoming affiliated.  Fairs may appeal this one-year qualification in cases in which the leadership of the fair has experience or training associated with an affiliate fair.

General requirements

  • The fair must serve a geographic territory that is not covered by another affiliate fair, except in cases of state or national fairs.
  • The fair must operate under the Intel ISEF Rules and Guidelines and ensure that students and teachers are aware of these requirements as they begin research projects. New fairs should have at least one year's experience with these Rules.
  • The Fair Director agrees to hold the Affiliated Fair by the given deadline in early April.

Fairs will be granted affiliation status based on meeting these requirements as well as the overall benefit the fair offers to the students and schools in the proposed territory.


New fairs should incorporate an identifiable region such as a county, state, or other geographic entity. Territory must be listed with as much detail as possible and should specify any areas or populations within the defined area that are excluded. These territories as defined may not overlap with the territory of an existing Intel ISEF-affiliated fair, except in the case of a state or national fair.

Number of projects that an affiliated fair can send to the Intel ISEF

Society for Science & the Public calculates the maximum project allocation available to a fair based on four factors: 1) number of high school students at the fair; 2) number of high schools represented at the fair; 3) the high school enrollment population of the territory served, and 4) an estimate of students participating in fairs that feed into the affiliated fair. 

In addition to this mathematical calculation, a fair may appeal during the affiliation process for additional allocations based on qualitative factors such as:

  • Reach of under-represented students.
  • Exceptional track record of highly competitive projects.
  • Special challenges of an urban or rural community.
  • The legitimate need for a transition period based on previous Intel ISEF representation.

International fairs’ allocations take into account other considerations relevant to their status as local, regional, and national fairs and other unique circumstances.

Intel ISEF Rules/SRC:

It is a requirement that affiliated fairs adhere to the International Rules for Precollege Science Research: Guidelines for Science and Engineering Fairs (Intel ISEF Rules) and that students, teachers and parents are informed about these requirements so that they use Intel ISEF forms from the start of research. Students that do not receive the appropriate approvals or complete the necessary Intel ISEF forms in the proper timeline may not qualify for competition at the Intel ISEF.

The fair director must appoint a Scientific Review Committee (SRC) that consists of a minimum of three members. The SRC must include at least one each of: a) biomedical scientist (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., D.O.), b) science educator, and c) another member which may, but is not required to be, a biomedical scientist or a science teacher.

These SRC members must be registered with Society for Science & the Public. Fair directors are required to fill out a form after their fair stating information about the SRC’s activities, such as the group’s meeting schedule and any problems the SRC encountered during reviews.

Judging and student eligibility

Affiliated fairs must recruit and manage a team of judges to select the projects to advance to the Intel ISEF. The judging process must be transparent and avoid any appearance of partiality or conflict of interest. Projects may be individual or team projects in any combination. 

Any student in grades 9 through 12 or equivalent who has not reached age 20 on or before May 1 preceding the Intel ISEF is eligible.

Each student may enter only one project that covers research done over a maximum, continuous 12-month period between January and May of the current Intel ISEF year.  Team projects are limited to two or three members.

Students may compete in only one Intel ISEF-affiliated fair, except when proceeding to a state or national fair affiliated with the Intel ISEF.

Official Party/ required documents

Registration to attend the Intel ISEF is opened in mid-February of each year and must be submitted through the director of each affiliated fair in the form of an Official Party that includes finalists (the students who did the research on the projects coming to the Intel ISEF); student observers from grades 8 through 12; an Adult in Charge to chaperone the students and act as the designated point person for the Official Party; and any other persons that fall within the Official Party size limit.

Fair directors will be asked to supply information online about their finalists to help SSP confirm the students competing at the Intel ISEF. Fair directors are responsible for ensuring that all Intel ISEF forms are complete and contain appropriate signatures, and that projects are reviewed in accordance with the Intel ISEF Rules. All paperwork from fair directors and finalists is due in the SSP office within 12 calendar days after the fair is held. SSP holds fair directors responsible for all paperwork, including the finalists’.

Registration fees

The registration fees for the Intel ISEF 2014 are explained below.  There is a tiered fee structure to charge students less than adults.   Students are defined as anyone under the age of 20 whether they are Finalists, observers or family members within the Official Party.  Observers must be students.

The maximum number of members within an entire Official Party is now determined by the number of projects a fair is committed to bring. (Additional Official Party spots may be requested.):

1.    Fairs with 1, 2 or 3 projects may bring individual or team Finalists representing the projects committed, up to 3 student observers and a maximum of 6 remaining official party.  (A fair must minimally have 1 Adult-in-Charge to chaperone the Finalists.)

2.    Fairs with 4, 5, or 6 projects may bring individual or team Finalists representing the projects committed, up to 3 student observers and a maximum of 10 remaining official party.  (A fair must minimally have 1 Adult-in-Charge to chaperone the Finalists.)

3.    Fairs with 7, 8, or 9 projects may bring individual or team Finalists representing the projects committed, up to 3 student observers and a maximum of 15 remaining official party.  (A fair must minimally have 2 Adults – an  Adult-in-Charge and one other adult to chaperone the Finalists.)

4.    Fairs with 10 projects or more may bring individual or team Finalists representing the projects committed, up to 5 student observers and a maximum of 20 remaining official party.  (A fair must minimally have 2 Adults – an  Adult-in-Charge and one other adult to chaperone the Finalists.)

Fees for registration (Paid on or before late April) 
            $130      Student Registration
            $160      Adult Registration
(Registration fees increase as much as 30% after the late April payment deadline.)

Cost for finalists

The affiliated fair, through sponsors or other funding, is responsible for arranging and financing registration fees, round trip travel, housing, and reasonable project shipping expenses for ALL individual and team Finalist(s) and the Accompanying Adult in Charge. Finalist families shall not be required to pay expenses as a condition of Finalist participation. Finalists must be escorted by an accompanying Adult in Charge.

If a team project is selected to compete in the Intel ISEF, all team members must be granted the opportunity to attend the Intel ISEF.

Affiliation fee

Fairs pay a fee to affiliate with the Intel ISEF. The base fee is $700 for fairs that are allotted one to two projects. Fairs with more than two projects will pay an additional $110 per project. As stated above, fairs do not have to send their allotted number of projects to the Intel ISEF and may instead commit to sending fewer. This helps save on the registration fee and travel costs for the finalists and may help reduce the affiliation fee as well.

A $50 discount is given to fairs that affiliate by the deadline in early October. Fairs are often dependent on universities or school systems to pay their affiliation fee, and those systems’ budget calendars vary widely, so fairs are given until mid-February to pay their affiliation fee. A $125 late charge will apply to fairs that submit their affiliation fee after the payment deadline date.

Affiliation fees paid by the early October deadline cannot be refunded nor can the number of projects be increased after affiliating, as the projects not being used will be available for fairs requesting additional allocations through the formal appeals process.

If you feel that your science fair meets these requirements for affiliation, please contact:

(for fairs inside the 50 states of the US)
Laurie Demsey, Domestic Fairs Manager

(for fairs in U.S. territories and outside the US)
Sharon Snyder, International Fairs Manager

From the SSP Newsroom

Science News


Science News for Students


Eureka! Lab