California State Science Fair
Changes from 1999 - 2000
The California State Science Fair strives continually to improve the
quality of the event for its participants throughout the State of
California. As part of these ongoing efforts we will be implementing
certain policy changes this year. Some of these changes were discussed
at the last County Coordinators' Conference which was held during the
1999 California State Science Fair.
- Policy Changes
Application Fee Increased
New Criteria for Acceptability of Late Applications
Rejections Guaranteed to be Timely
Sixth Grade Projects Retained
Some Fairs' Application Deadlines Modified
Revised Project Allocations for 2000
The Application Fee has increased from $10 to
This Application Fee applies to applications which are submitted
(postmarked) by the relevant Application Deadline (see below).
Applications may still be accepted (subject to limits described
below) if postmarked by the Final Deadline. The Application Fee
for such late applications has been increased from last year's
fee of $20 to $30.
Late applications submitted before the Final Deadline
may not be accepted.
Historically, all applications which were certified by affiliated fairs
as qualified to enter the California State Science Fair and received
by the Final Deadline were accepted, whether or not the application was
received by the affiliate's Application Deadline.
In the following discussion we distinguish between three classes of
projects submitted from affiliated fairs:
This distinction between the two deadlines is only applicable
for affiliated fairs whose Awards Ceremonies occur on or before
April 16. The Final Deadline for the 2000 Fair is
May 1, whereas each affiliated fair's Application
Deadline is the earlier of May 1 or fourteen calendar days
following the affiliate's Awards Ceremony. The changes
discussed in this section will only affect those fairs whose
Application Deadline is earlier than the Final Deadline.
The apparent complexity of the following rules should not obscure this
essential fact: certified projects which are submitted in a
timely manner (prior to the Application Deadline) will be accepted,
subject only to scientific review discussed elsewhere. The
rules given below are meant to insure fairness among all eligible
projects which do not fall into this category: wait-listed projects
and/or late applications.
- Certified Projects. These projects are
determined by each affiliate to be the best projects at
their fair. The number of certified projects from an
affiliate is limited to the project
allocation discussed below.
- Wait-Listed Projects. These projects are
determined by each affiliate to be worthy representatives
of their fair, and would have been selected as "Certified"
had only the affiliate's project allocation been larger.
Wait-listed projects are ordinarily accepted only to the
number of certified projects which do not apply to CSSF.
- Non-Qualifying Projects. All "Certified"
and "Wait-Listed" projects are communicated to CSSF
immediately following the affiliate's Awards Ceremony.
Projects not included on these lists are not eligible
to participate in CSSF regardless of the number of
other projects from the affiliate which may elect not
The California State Science Fair has decided that beginning this year,
applications for projects from an affiliated fair which are
received after that affiliate's Application Deadline will not
be guaranteed acceptance into CSSF. This is a significant change in
the meaning of the term "Application Deadline." In previous years only
the amount of the application fee changed after that deadline. Now,
failing to meet the Application Deadline may mean that even a certified
project will not be accepted. The rules determining acceptability of
all applications from an affiliate (with respect to the affiliate's
project allcation) are as follows:
The application of these new rules will result in each affiliate
having the maximum number of eligible students representing them
at CSSF, while minimizing the delay in informing students whose
applications are not acceptable.
- On Time Rule. All projects whose applications to
CSSF are postmarked (or submitted, if an electronic
application) by their Application Deadline will be counted. As
long as the total number received is less than or equal to the
affiliated fair's allocation, all will be accepted, subject to
the PARC quality review, whether the projects are on the
affiliate's certified list or on its waiting list. If the
number exceeds the allocation, the projects lowest on the
waiting list will not be accepted.
In this rule, there is no "Grace Period" allowed for electronic
applications. The "Grace Period" does, however, still apply
in determining the application fee and Final Deadline.
- Late Applications. All projects whose
applications are postmarked (or submitted) after the applicable
Application Deadline will be accepted only to the extent that
such acceptance will not exceed the affiliated fair's
This rule means that it is possible that a wait-listed project
received before the affiliate's Application Deadline will
cause a higher ranked certified project received after that
Deadline to be rejected. This rule is meant to encourage
timely submission of applications.
- Late Acceptances. The acceptance of projects
after the Application Deadline will be in order of postmark
date (or submission date if an electronic application). When
multiple applications are postmarked (or submitted) on the same
date, and only some can be accepted in maintaining the
affiliate's allocation, selection will be made on the basis
of quality as determined by CSSF.
- The "If It's Our Fault" Rule. In the event of the
failure by CSSF to identify cases of allocations being exceeded
by the end of the fifteenth (15) day prior to CSSF Registration
(for 2000 this is Sunday, May 7) and of contacting (or at
least phoning and attempting to contact) students by that day,
projects subsequently discovered to exceed the affiliate's
allocation will not be rejected on these grounds.
In the event that an applicant whose application has been rejected
is unable to be contacted on account of not providing a phone
number on the application, or the provided phone number is
non-functional, "It's Not Our Fault" and this rule does not apply.
All project rejections will be informed more
than two weeks prior to the Fair.
This is a consequence of the new criteria for acceptability of late
applications discussed above. In previous years students who
were wait-listed had to wait until all applications were processed
before it was known whether or not their application could be
accepted within their affiliate's project allocation. This final
accounting usually occurred one to three days after the
date when airlines allowed cheap, though non-refundable, ticketing
(typically 14 days prior to departure).
Thanks to the new late-application policy discussed above, all
wait-listed students will be guaranteed to learn whether their
wait-list position was below the cut-off line more than 14 days prior
to the Fair's set-up day. For those applicants whose Application
Deadline is significantly earlier than the Final Deadline, their
wait-list acceptability will be known almost immediately.
For all students (both certified and wait-listed) applications
still need to pass review for scientific content, which this year will
occur on May 6, 2000. Typically, fewer than 1% of all applications
fail to pass the initial scientific review, and even a fraction of these
are found to be acceptable after discussion with the applicants.
This scientific review is unchanged from previous years and is
described more completely in the Official Application Packet.
Sixth grade students will be eligible to
participate in the 2000 California State Science Fair.
Sixth grade students were first admitted to the California State
Science Fair in 1999 as a one-year experiment. At that time we stated
At the 1999 County Coordinators' Conference, representative of
affiliated fairs throughout the State were uniform in their support for
the continuation of this policy, despite difficulties which many found
in the implementation of that policy within their individual fairs.
The California State Science Fair has now decided to establish the
eligibility of sixth grade students as a permanent rule.
No decision regarding the
admissibility of sixth grade students in future years will be
made until after the 1999 Fair.
This extension of grade levels does not affect the number of projects
allocated to any affiliate. Each affiliate is the sole authority in
determining how many projects from each grade level will be selected
to represent the affiliate at the State Science Fair. It is within
the authority of each affiliate not to select any sixth
grade project (or any other grade for that matter) even if sixth
grade students participate in the affiliated fair itself.
All fairs now have Application Deadlines
between April 1 and May 1.
This change affects only those fairs whose Awards Ceremonies occur on
March 17 or earlier. Previously, the Application Deadline was defined
as either 14 calendar days after the affiliate's Awards Ceremony or the
Final Application Deadline (which this year is May 1), whichever came
earlier. This rule was determined to be unfair to fairs which are held
much earlier than others (on occasion as much as three months earlier).
All affiliates' Application Deadlines are still defined as 14 calendar
days following the Awards Ceremony, but will be no earlier than April
1, and no later than the Final Deadline of May 1.
A table of all affiliates'
deadlines is available here.
The allocations to affiliated fairs of the
number of projects which may be sent to CSSF have been revised from 1999
in 1998, the number of projects which each affiliated fair is
allowed to certify to CSSF has been defined as an explicit limit by
CSSF, rather than loose limits determined by each fair independently.
Generally speaking, this new allocation process has been a success.
Based upon discussions with our affiliates, most notably all of those
participating in recent County Coordinators Conferences, these
allocations have been revised for 2000.
Here are these allocations, along with their
determining factors. All affiliates have been informed of their
the announcement letter from the
Chair of the Fair.
See also: Changes in recent years:
Wed Mar 22 22:34:43 PST 2000
California State Science Fair
Changes for 2000