In the fall, it might be easy to remember that your students’ projects need to be reviewed and approved by your regional science fair Scientific Review Committee (SRC) before they can start their experimentation. But it’s important to remember the same rules apply to students doing independent research project work over the summer.
Get the Information Needed First! Middle School & High School Students
Before your students start working to complete required forms, we strongly suggest you direct them to review the high school manual or middle school manual. These manuals are an important first step for students, and will give them information about conducting experiments, research & safety regulations, restricted areas of research or research areas that will require MSSEF SRC prior approvals, and how to enter the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fairs. With these SRC approvals, your students can start to work on their projects with confidence, knowing they will not be disqualified for safety reasons after all the work is done!
Science Fair Forms Made Simple!!
Middle School Students
Prior to beginning their experimentation, all students working on a project over the summer should first complete two Forms: 1A and 1B, which includes a Research Plan. Some projects may require up to two additional forms: Form C if the student’s research involves humans, and Form D if the student is working with microorganisms or other materials requiring supervision. These forms require the signature of a parent and teacher. When completed, these forms should be sent for SRC approval to your regional science fair SRC chairperson before the student begins work on the project.
High School Students
SEFOS, the Science & Engineering Fair Online System, will automatically generate the required SRC forms your students need to complete prior to starting work on their project.
1st step! Create a student account in SEFOS. This can be done as soon as SEFOS is open for 2017 (first week of July). Students provide their contact information, their school name and address, as well as the name, email addresses and phone numbers of four individuals: the school principal, science department head, science fair coordinator and their science teacher. We suggest that your students gather this information before logging into SEFOS and creating an account. Only one account for all years in high school is needed – students can log directly into an existing account each year to update their information. Once the student account is created or updated, the student will receive an email with a link to create a project.
2nd Step! Students create a project for the current year, providing information about their project and their research plan. Based on the information your students provide, SEFOS automatically generates the required forms your students need to complete prior to starting work on their project. Most projects only require two basic forms, which include their research plan. To qualify for the statewide science fair system and compete for over $500,000 in prizes and scholarships, each high school student must use SEFOS to complete and submit all forms required for all projects.
If your student will be working with any hazardous chemicals, activities or devices, or with vertebrate animals or potentially hazardous biological agents, then additional forms are required which will automatically be generated based on how the student answers a set of questions about their project. These special forms are required even if your student is working in a registered research institution or industrial setting under supervision of a scientist or researcher.
Deadlines and Questions about Projects
Keep in mind that deadlines for final submission of forms are determined by each of the MA Regional Science Fairs (six MA regions) not by the MSSEF state fair. So, it is crucial to stay in contact with your regional high school or regional middle school science fair leader. Nearly all the regional science fair organizations have their summer and school year deadlines posted on a website and if not, contact information is provided for each.
In Massachusetts, all MSSEF regional and state science fairs are affiliated with the international and national science fairs (organized by the Society for Science & the Public or SSP) and follow the International Rules for Pre-College Science Research.
While some forms and rules may not seem relevant, their purpose is to protect the rights and welfare of the student researcher and human participants, to ensure adherence to federal regulations and to use safe laboratory practices and to protect the environment.
Questions on forms and rules can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.