Registration FAQ’s

Registration Frequently Asked Questions

Event Information FAQs

When do I set up my project?

Projects must be set up and approved by Display and Safety.

  • Grades 1 – 6: Friday 9:00 to 11:30 am
  • Grades 7 – 12: Saturday 7:00 to 9:00 am

(Optional set-up on Friday 7:00 to 8:30 pm)

Is food available at the Fair?

Food will be available for purchase at a reasonable fee at the WSSEF.  Refer to the Schedule of Events.

Will parking be available?

Yes!  Free parking is available during the WSSEF.  Refer to the parking maps.

For school bus parking, please contact sponsors@wssef.org.

What should I wear to the Fair?

We recommend that you dress professionally, but comfortably.  You’ll be on your feet some of the day, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

What should I do when my project is not being judged?

The judging process can be lengthy with a lot of “down” time.  You are encouraged to bring a book to read, an electronic device or other items while you are waiting to talk to the judges during your session.  Be sure that whatever you bring is not a distraction to yourself or others.

Will my valuables be secure at the Fair?

We recommend that you only display your computer or other valuable items while you are with your project.  WSSEF is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

Is there a time for the public to view the projects?

The exhibits will be open to the public. Please refer to the Fair’s Schedule of Events for details.

Eligibility FAQs

Who is eligible to participate at the WSSEF?

Everyone!  All students in grades 1 – 12 attending public, private, charter, parochial or home schools in Washington State are eligible to participate.

If a student has a Regional Fair in their county, they must attend and present their project at that Fair in order to participate at the state level.  See the registration map on page http://wssef.org/registrationmap/ for specific registration instructions for the county where you go to school.

Mentors FAQs

Can parents, teachers and other adults help with a project?

Yes!  One of the great things about a science fair is that there is room for parent involvement and outside help.  By sharing science experiences, parents, teachers and other mentors demonstrate that learning is an important and enjoyable process. The key is that YOU, the student, are the lead on the project. Adults can offer advice, review forms, help gather materials, assist in constructing the backboard and proofread grammar.  However, the research and overall project should reflect the effort of the student(s).

Can I work with a researcher at a University or a Research Institution?

Yes!  Working with a professional can open your eyes to current research, laboratory equipment, and valuable advice.  As a student, you will not be penalized if you choose to work on a project under the supervision of a researcher.  However, we encourage students to do the majority of the work and have a strong understanding of the research they are working on.

I don’t know any professional scientists or engineers. Can I still do well at the WSSEF if I work on a project by myself?

Yes! We understand that it can be difficult to find a mentor and we do not penalize students who are working on their own.  Some of the best research we have seen at the Fair comes from students who have researched simple problems in new and creative ways! However, you will need to have at least an Adult Sponsor (could be a teacher or a parent/guardian) to go over your project paperwork and insure safe procedures are followed.  Depending on your experimental design, you may be required to have a Designated Supervisor or Qualified Scientist.

Registration FAQs

How do I register for the fair?

All students must register online at https://wssef.stemwizard.com/. After registering online, students will receive an e-mail from the registration system giving you a login link.  The registration site uses milestones.  Each milestone needs to be completed.  You are finished with the WSSEF registration process and can consider yourself registered if your milestones are either green checkmarks or orange hourglasses.

Projects involving human participants, vertebrate animals, potentially hazardous biological agents (ANY microorganisms or viruses), or hazardous chemicals, activities or devices needs prior approval and additional forms.  See further information at http://wssef.org/fair-rules-regulations/or use the ISEF Rules Wizard at https://ruleswizard.societyforscience.org/.

How do I know that I have submitted everything?

If your milestones are either “Approved” green checkmarks or orange “Waiting for Approval” statuses as shown below then you have submitted everything.

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Can I still come to the fair if the forms are still waiting to be approved?

Yes!  Come to the Fair and bring your project.  SRC may contact you if they have any more questions or need anything to complete the form approval process.

Why do I have to register online?

The online registration lets us know that you are coming and helps us to plan for space, judging assignments, certificates and more.  All students must register online by the registration deadline.

Forms FAQs

What forms do I need to submit?

All students are required to submit the WSSEF Media – Indemnity – Ethics form.  Grades 1 – 5 have a single form and Grades 1 – 12 submit the three ISEF forms which are listed on the Registration Information page at http://wssef.org/registration-info-forms/.  These automatically load for you during your registration process.

In addition, each student will be required to submit an abstract, research plan and pay entry fees.

Different types of projects may require additional forms. Additional forms are required for projects involving human subjects, vertebrate animals, controlled substances and/or potentially hazardous biological agents. See further information at http://wssef.org/fair-rules-regulations/ or use the ISEF Rules Wizard at: https://ruleswizard.societyforscience.org/ .

Do I turn in the originals of my registration forms?

NO! You will submit your forms online as you complete your science fair registration. It is recommended that you bring a copy of your registration forms with you to the Fair in case they are needed.

How long will it take for my forms to be approved?

The Scientific Review Committee (SRC) reviews and approves abstracts, research plans and forms.  Due to the volume of student registrations, the approval processes may occur right before the fair.

What if my forms are not approved or I have not paid my entry fees by the time I arrive at the Fair? Can I still come to the Fair?

Yes!  Plan on coming to the Fair.  You are required to pay the entry fees and stand in line to talk to SRC.  The lines can sometimes be long so plan on coming early.  You will not be allowed to set up your project until all registration items (SRC and fees) are completed for you and each of your team members.

SRC – Scientific Review Committee - FAQs

What is the Scientific Review Committee (SRC)?

The WSSEF Scientific Review Committee (SRC) is a group of adults knowledgeable about the federal and state regulations concerning experimentation.  The committee is responsible for reviewing all student projects to make sure that they are being conducted in a safe and ethical manner.

Student projects involving human subjects, vertebrate animals, potentially hazardous biological agents, hazardous materials and DEA-controlled substances MUST receive SRC/IRB approval before beginning their data collection.  If you have already started your experiment and did not receive prior approval, please contact src@wssef.org or wsseffairdirector@wssef.org and let us know about your situation.  See further information at http://wssef.org/fair-rules-regulations/ or use the ISEF Rules Wizard at https://ruleswizard.societyforscience.org/ .

Does my project need to be approved by the SRC?

It depends on your choice of project.  If your project uses any of the following, you will need special forms and will need to submit your project for consideration by the Scientific Review Committee: lab-grade chemicals, vertebrate animals, recombinant DNA, microorganisms, blood products, animal or human tissues, or any other activities that have risk “above typical household/school use.”

See further information at http://wssef.org/fair-rules-regulations/ or use the ISEF Rules Wizard at https://ruleswizard.societyforscience.org/ .

How long will it take to get SRC approval for my project?

Please allow two to three weeks for the SRC to review your project. You can also contact the SRC committee directly by e-mail to src@wssef.org.

Can I still come to the WSSEF even if I’m awaiting SRC approval for my project?

YES!  Come to the Fair!  Although, your milestone shows an orange hourglass pending approval there may only be a simple question that needs answered.  It is best to submit all your forms in advance of the Fair.  The closer to Fair time, the more backlog happens on the SRC reviewing / approval process.

IRB – Institutional Review Board - FAQs

What is the Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a group of adults knowledgeable about the federal and state regulations concerning experimentation.  The committee is responsible for reviewing all student projects with human participation (including surveys) to make sure that they are being conducted in a safe and ethical manner.

** Note: Institutional Review Board (IRB) officials are at the local school/ institution level where the experiment is being performed and can be supervised.  When required, the Form 4 must be signed before submitting forms to WSSEF.  WSSEF does not have an IRB and cannot sign or approve Form 4.  WSSEF SRC provides oversight to insure forms are completed only.

Does my project need to be approved by the IRB?

If your project involves human participants, you will need an IRB approval before experimentation.  Review the ISEF rules at https://student.societyforscience.org/human-participants for further instructions and to determine if any additional forms will be required.

Is it OK to get approval after I have collected my data?

If you are working with human subjects, you MUST have your project approved BEFORE you begin your experiment.  The purpose of the IRB is to make sure that you are doing your science fair project safely and ethically, therefore, the committee must approve your project before you start collecting data. If you have already started your experiment and did not receive prior approval, please contact src@wssef.org or wsseffairdirector@wssef.org and let us know about your situation.

Project Display FAQs

Can my parents or teacher set up my project for me at the fair?

Yes. Just be certain that all materials you plan to display are present in order to be approved by a safety and display judge during the set-up times.

How should I display my information, data and photos on the project board?

Your display will be a visual aid that briefly states all the important aspects of your project: problem, hypothesis, experiment description, results/analysis, conclusions and applications.  You are encouraged to creatively display your project.

If you believe it important to display a restricted item (dirt, organisms, etc.) to the judges, use alternate methods.  Take photos, use an electronic device, short video or other means to convey your message.  Your best method of conveying information is talking to the judges and pointing at a chart, graph or photo to reinforce your information.  Remember, you have a limited time with each set of judges.  Use it wisely.

What needs to be available besides my project board during the Science Fair?

Your notebooks / journal are required and must be available to the Judges.  Include any other item that a student needs to help explain the project to judges; like a model or 3-d graph, etc.  All items that will be at the project during judging needs to be at your project when Display and Safety looks at your project on the day of judging.

Judging FAQs

How will I be judged?

Students should plan on giving an oral presentation of their project which highlights why the student decided to select their topic, how the experiment / engineering test was conducted, any conclusions and what the student learned doing the project.  This presentation should be approximately 5 minutes (may be less for younger students) which will leaves time for questions.  Some Judges will wait till the end to ask questions and some Judges will interrupt to ask questions.

The WSSEF judges evaluate projects based on the WSSEF Judges’ Guidelines listed at: http://wssef.org/judging-guidelines-for-the-wssef/.  Judges are looking for creative ability, scientific thought, thoroughness, skill and clarity.  Team projects will also be judged on how well the students worked together.

The WSSEF Special Awards judges evaluate projects using special judging criteria given to them by the sponsoring organization and therefore will only talk to students  whose projects fit their criteria.  You can learn more about special award criteria on the WSSEF Awards page.

If my hypothesis is disproved during the course of experimentation, is the project a failure?

Absolutely not!  Disproving a hypothesis is just as important as proving the hypothesis.  Disproving a hypothesis is useful because it allows you to make a new hypothesis, which can lead you to the answer.  The important thing is what a student learns from the project.

Do I have to stay for the entire judging period?

Yes! There are two judging sessions during which you will need to be present the entire time.  This is when the category judges and special award judges come and visit you.

What if I can’t come to WSSEF during the judging time?

The judging interview is the most important component of the judging process.  If you cannot come at all, the project can be displayed and judges will evaluate the project on the display only.  However, the project may not win special awards and for Grades 9 – 12, will not be selected as a finalist for the International Science and Engineering Fair.

Do all members of my team have to be present during judging?

No. However, it will be difficult for the judges to understand the contributions of each team member. Team projects without all members present most likely will receive a significant team deduction on their final score.  In addition, all team members (present or not) are required to register to WSSEF, submit all forms and pay entry fees.  If a team project wins an award, all team members receive that award whether or not they are present during the Fair.

How long does the judging last and when can I leave?

There are two judging sessions.  Grades 1 – 6 students are usually finished on Friday at 4:30 pm.  Grades 7 – 12 students are usually finished with regular judging on Saturday at 3:30 pm.  Please refer to the Fair’s Schedule of Events for details.

More questions?

If you have additional questions about the WSSEF, forms, procedures, individual projects or anything else we’ve missed, we would like to hear from you!  Contact your WSSEF Registration Team at registration@wssef.org and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.