California State Science Fair
Changes for 2017


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 the changes listed below will be implemented. Some of these changes were discussed at the last Affiliated Fair Conference which was held during the 2016 California State Science Fair.

Fair Date
Intel ISEF Affiliation
Application Process Changes
Simplified Deadline
Annual Update
Project Allocations for 2017
Broadcom MASTERS Competition
Recent Changes (from previous Fairs)
Professional Research Opportunity Support (2016)
Earlier Rolling Acceptances (2016)
Category Sponsorships (2016)
Participants at Public Viewing (2012)
Alternative Human Subjects/ Safety Certification Forms (2012)

Fair Date

For 2017 the California State Science Fair will take place on April 24-25. This is approximately one month earlier than last year. The reason is explained in the following item.

Intel ISEF Affiliation

The California State Science Fair is pleased to announce that for 2017 it has affiliated with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Thanks to this affiliation several top winners in the Senior Division will be awarded an all-expenses paid trip to participate in ISEF 2017 on May 14-19. ISEF is the world's premiere pre-college science competition hosting roughly 1700 participants from over 70 countries and awarding approximately $5 million in awards and scholarships.

Application Process Changes

In consequence of the ISEF affiliation announced above CSSF is required to change some of the processes that will affect students applying to participate in it. In no case will any of these changes have any impact on whether a given student can participate in CSSF or on any student’s eligibility for any CSSF award other than qualification to ISEF.

The changes which are required of CSSF involve extra documentation on every project which is ISEF-eligible. However, not all projects are ISEF-eligible in the first place, and even students who could be eligible are not required to make themselves eligible.

  1. Junior Division students are completely unaffected by the additional ISEF affiliation documentation requirements because they are by rule not eligible to participate in ISEF.
  2. Senior Division students who choose not to make themselves eligible for ISEF have no new burden placed upon their application and do not need to complete any ISEF paperwork.
  3. Only Senior Division students wishing to be considered for ISEF must satisfy ISEF requirements.

These requirements involve extra documentation of two types. First, any experimentation involving human subjects, vertebrate animals, or potentially hazardous biological agents must be approved in advance, using ISEF forms to document this pre-approval.

Second, after experimentation all projects wishing to be ISEF-eligible must be approved by the CSSF SRC as part of the CSSF application process before they may participate in CSSF, again as documented with ISEF forms. Failure to get the required approvals will render the project ineligible for ISEF, but will not affect the project in any way concerning participation in CSSF or in eligibility for CSSF awards.

Simplified Deadline for 2017

The deadline structure for applications has been simplified. There is now only one deadline, the Submission Deadline. While applications are incomplete until the Application Fee has been paid (along with possibly other documentation depending upon the project), not sending the Application Fee within two days of the application’s Submission Deadline is no longer a reason for rejecting applications. Nevertheless, for qualified projects the Application Fee should still be sent immediately after submitting the application. Alternate projects should continue to wait for the acceptance decision and explicit instruction to send the Application Fee.

History: For many years there have been two deadlines which applications had to satisfy, a Submission Deadline and an Application Fee Deadline. The original motivation for the Application Fee Deadline was abuse by a small number of students who submitted applications to CSSF with no intention of participating, thereby precluding the participation of other students named as alternates. By requiring the Application Fee before announcing acceptances the frequency of such abuse was reduced.

However, given the desire by students and their families for earlier decisions on acceptance, especially those not within driving distance of Los Angeles and therefore needing to make special travel arrangements, CSSF has progressively reduced the gap from the application submission until an acceptance decision was announced. Now, each fair’s Decision Date, when acceptance decisions are announced, is only seven calendar days after its Submission Deadline. Consequently, there is no longer sufficient time for the Application Fee to be mailed, received, and processed before the Decision Date. In recognition of the fact that receipt of the Application Fee can no longer be a condition for acceptance, there is no longer an explicit Appplication Fee Deadline. Nevertheless, the Application Fee is still required of every participant before being allowed to register on site and set up the Project Display. Whether the Application Fee has been received will continue to be published on the CSSF web site.

Clarification on Submission Deadline: Under normal circumstances an affiliate’s Submission Deadline is the date after which any application from a student from that affiliate will not be accepted. However, there are exceptions. More precisely, the Submission Deadline is the last date on which applications for qualified projects from an affiliate retain priority over its alternates. After the Submission Deadline if the total number of acceptable applications received from an affiliate is equal to or larger than that affiliate’s allocation, no further applications from that affiliate will be accepted. All on-time applications from qualified projects that meet the CSSF Eligibility Criteria will be accepted, along with on-time alternates in the priority order specified by the affiliated fair to the extent that doing so does not exceed the affiliate’s allocation. However, if the total number of applications has not filled the affilate’s allocation, then subsequent applications will still be accepted until the allocation has been filled or the Final Submission Deadline (which this year is April 5) on a first-come, first-served basis, without regard for whether the submitted project was named as a qualified or alternate project. Consequently, qualified projects submitted after the Submission Deadline may not be accepted if alternate projects submitted earlier have filled the allocation.

Clarification on Team Projects: Each member of a Team Project must submit his/her own application, along with its associated Application Fee. For purposes of determining when “the project” was submitted, CSSF will use the earliest application submission time by any member of the team. Team members submitting applications after the Submission Deadline will not be rejected simply owing to a late application if another member of the team has already submitted an application on time and the project is otherwise eligible for participation.

Annual Update

Project Allocations for 2017

The allocations to affiliated fairs of the number of projects which may be sent to CSSF have been determined. Beginning in 1998, the number of projects which each affiliated fair is allowed to qualify to CSSF has been defined as an explicit limit set by CSSF. Based upon available space (which varies every year), determined needs across the entire State, and discussions with our affiliates, most notably all of those participating in recent Affiliated Fairs Conferences, here are the allocations for 2017. With the exception of the smallest affiliates, whose allocations are already at the minimum of 6, almost all affiliates have been assigned allocations which are smaller than in previous years. This is due to the fact that in 2017 the space available for project displays within the California Science Center is smaller than in previous years owing to temporary exhibits which will be on display in the Science Center during this year’s fair. Some of the spaces which have been used in recent years will likely not be available again in the future.

Broadcom MASTERS Competition

The California State Science Fair is affiliated with the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) Competition for 2017.

As a result of this affiliation, all projects in the Junior Division which receive a category award of First or Second Place (and have not already been nominated to the Broadcom MASTERS by their local fair) will be qualified into, and receive entry packages for, the Broadcom MASTERS competition. Depending upon the number of such selected students who have already been qualified into the Broadcom MASTERS by our affiliated fairs, it may be possible for CSSF to qualify Third Place (and even Fourth Place) winners as well. Obviously, this will not be known until the Junior Division Awards Ceremony.

The Broadcom MASTERS is a nationwide competition for students in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. From the total entrant pool, 300 Semifinalists will be selected, including 30 Finalists who win an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for themselves and one chaperon, where they will compete for awards and prizes, including the top award of $25,000. For further information on the competition itself see the Broadcom MASTERS web site.

Recent Changes (announced in previous years)

Professional Research Opportunity Support (Changed in 2016)

All students who have been supported in a professional research environment must submit the new Professional Research Opportunity Support form as part of their application. Important: See the “Update for 2017” at the end of this item.

Years ago, CSSF required students who had worked in a professional research environment only to have a letter from their research advisor available for inspection by the judges at their project display.

Beginning in 2013, students were required to produce this required letter as part of the application process. No student who had performed all or a substantial part of their project in a professional research environment was permitted to register or set up their project display without having previously produced this letter.

The change in 2016 was that instead of an unstructured letter, students who have enjoyed the support of a professional research environment must have the research director at that institution complete a specific form. This form is considered part of the application so in its absence the application is incomplete and no such student will be permitted to register or set up his/her display. This was formalized in a revised Display Regulation 8:

8. All projects must clearly distinguish between the work of the student participant and the work of others. Students participating in a research opportunity in industry, a university, hospital, or institution other than their school, must display only their research. Such students must have the principal research director complete either the CSSF Professional Research Opportunity Support (PROS) form (which is preferred) or the ISEF Form 1C specifying the assistance received and the role and contributions of others in the project. A copy of this form must be submitted as part of the application. The original must be included in the project notebook at the project display for inspection by the judges.

Although the CSSF PROS form is preferred, students who have participated in a county or regional science fair which is an ISEF affiliate and who already have a completed ISEF Form 1C may use that form instead of needing to generate yet another piece of documentation from their research advisor. Regardless of affiliated fair, students who do not already have a completed ISEF Form 1C, and all students in the Junior Division, are strongly encouraged to utilize the CSSF PROS form.

Further, as stated in the Display Regulation, students should keep the original form with their project, and send only a photocopy (or scan) as part of their application. The original should be kept with the project notebook at the project display for inspection.

Update for 2017: Senior Division students who wish to be ISEF-eligible must use the ISEF forms. Such students may also choose to provide the PROS form, but this is not necessary and will not benefit them in any way. Use of the PROS form is preferred for Junior Division students and Senior Division students not concerned with ISEF-eligibility.

Earlier Rolling Acceptances (Changed in 2016)

Acceptances for students from fairs with early deadlines will receive notice earlier than before. Submission Deadlines for all of CSSF's affiliates are staggered across several weeks, often spanning March and April, with fairs whose Awards Ceremonies are held earliest having the earliest deadlines. Nevertheless, before 2009 all applicants received notice of acceptance (or not) at the same time, the Final Decision Date.

In an effort to allow families more time to make travel plans, beginning in 2009 acceptances were announced progressively over the course of the application period. Acceptances (or rejections) for applicants from each affiliate were announced 14 calendar days after the Submission Deadline for that affiliate, or the Final Decision Date, whichever came earlier.

Beginning in 2016 the Decision Date for each affiliate was changed to either seven (7) calendar days after the affiliate’s Submission Deadline, or the Final Decision Date, whichever comes first.

Category Sponsorships (Changed in 2016)

Individual categories are now available for sponsorship. Organizations wishing to support the California State Science Fair may now sponsor a subject category. The fee for sponsorship depends upon whether the category exists in only one age division (e.g., Junior Division only) or both. A fuller explanation, and contact information, is provided in this document.

Participants at Public Viewing (Changed in 2012)

All participants are requested to be present for Public Viewing on Monday, 3:00 - 4:30 pm. Central to the California State Science Fair's mission is the promotion of its participants and recognition of their accomplishments. One way we do this is by inviting the general public to view the projects entered into the Fair. While there has always been a Public Viewing time, beginning in 2012 we have changed Public Viewing to a relatively short period in the late afternoon, thus assuring that almost all projects will be entirely set up. Public Viewing has been scheduled so as to make it convenient for all participants to move to the Opening Ceremony and Keynote Address immediately following it.

Within the Public Viewing period we will provide a schedule by which all participants will be given an opportunity to visit other projects while their presenters are available.

Please note that no participant is required to be present at the Public Viewing. The invitation to the general public is meant to showcase your work which will be on display, whether or not you choose to be present to explain your work. While we have termed this period “Public Viewing,” it is expected that most students will avail themselves of this opportunity to see other projects. There will be no further opportunity for students to view each other’s projects later because during the Judging Period on Tuesday all students will need to be at or near their own projects for that entire time.

Alternative Human Subjects/ Safety Certification Forms (Changed in 2012)

ISEF Certification Forms will be accepted in place of the CSSF Safety/Certification form. Students whose projects involve research on human subjects, vertebrate animals, or potentially hazardous biological agents are required, as a precondition for participation in CSSF (as well as most science fairs), to certify that they have followed all applicable regulations during the execution of their research project. In recognition that Senior Division students from some CSSF-affiliated fairs are already required to complete the more comprehensive ISEF forms, CSSF will accept these completed ISEF forms in place of our own Safety/Certification form.

There is no requirement at CSSF to use the ISEF forms. In particular, Senior Division students in ISEF-affiliated fairs may choose to submit the simpler CSSF form. Naturally, Junior Division participants, who are not eligible for ISEF, are expected to submit the CSSF form, as well as are all participants from non-ISEF-affiliates. In brief, all participants who are required to provide certification may choose to submit either form.

The only ISEF forms which are relevant to this discussion are those numbered 2, 3, 4, 5 (A or B), 6A, and 6B. If you elect to submit the ISEF forms, do not submit the originals. Instead, keep the originals with your project notebook or display, and submit only copies to us as part of your application.

See also: Changes last year: 2016.

Last updated: Mon Jan 16 15:39:02 PST 2017
California State Science Fair / Changes for 2017 /