Review the 2023-24 MSEF High School Manual for requirements, regulations and expectations for the fair.
Restricted Areas of Research
Research Plan Templates (please make a copy to edit)
Template: Engineering with Humans
Template: Human Subjects
Template: PHBA – Biological Agents
Template: Vertebrate Animals
Please see manual for more details
A project may include no more than 12 months of continuous research and may not include research performed before January of the year prior to the fair. Projects that build on or progress from previous years work are called ‘continuation projects’ and must demonstrate a substantive difference in focus and methodology.
Individual projects must be entirely the work of the individual student and team projects (up to 3) must be entirely the work of the team. Project ideas should be developed by students and not assigned. Please review the Ethics Statement for more information about the role of mentors in supporting student work.
Required forms must be submitted to the Massachusetts Statewide Scientific Review Committee for approval BEFORE starting experimentation for restricted areas of research and before participating in the Fairs for all project. Use the templates above to create a thorough research plan for review. More information on paperwork and approval requirements can be found here.
There are four primary components to a Science & Engineering Fair project: (a) A bound or digital notebook to record each step of the project. (b) A lab report or research paper, complete with works cited and an abstract. (c) A visual display for presentation at the Fair. Consult the manual for restrictions on materials for the Fair presentation and venue. (d) An oral presentation about the project. More information and recommendations can be found here.
Students must work with qualified adults as outlined in the High School Manual. This includes a teacher and an ‘adult sponsor’ for the project, which may be the same person. Some projects may also require a ‘qualified scientist’ or ‘designated supervisor.’ Adults help students acquire background information, teach the techniques required, and to monitor for safety. Teachers are also responsible for communication with the Regional Fairs and MSEF about participation.
Projects should show evidence of scientific research, engineering design, computer science, or applied mathematics. More information on project methods can be found here. Projects that are demonstrations, ‘library’ research or informational projects, ‘explanation’ models, or kit building are not appropriate for competition in MSEF.
Judges (professionals and academics in STEM) volunteer their time to review student projects. Judge scores are based on a student’s understanding of their project, not it’s sophistication. Review the Judges Rubric with your students to help them prepare for the experience. The judge rubric is new for the 2024 High School Fairs.
The 2023 High School Awards results can be found here.
All projects must be approved by the teacher and/or adult sponsor before experimentation. Students who engage in research in the following categories MUST also get prior approval BEFORE starting experimentation from the Statewide High School Scientific Review Committee (SRC).
Checklist for Adult Sponsor (Form 1), Student Checklist (Form 1A), Research Plan/ Project Summary, and Approval Form (Form 1B)
Regulated Research Institution Form (Form 1C), when applicable
Qualified Scientist Form (Form 2), when applicable
Risk Assessment (Form 3), when applicable
Human Subjects (Form 4), when applicable
Vertebrate Animal (Forms 5A, 5B), when applicable
PHBA Risk Assessment Form (Form 6A), when applicable
Human and Vertebrate Animal Tissue Form (Form 6B), for all studies involving tissues and body fluids
Continuation Form (Form 7), for projects that build on earlier projects
For students who have participated in a project in past years, please consider if you need form 7 completed. It’s full title is “Continuation/Research Progression Project”. Sometimes this form is needed even if this year’s project is distinct from last years. This form is designed to clearly outline those differences.
A continuation project shows that you have progressed forward with your research, which is a valuable experience in STEM.
The two pathways for student participation at the State Fair: Regional Fair Promotion and Direct Entry
All student projects must go through the Statewide SRC approval system (https://mahs.zfairs.com/) before the regional fair is held to participate in either pathway.
Review this slideshow for more details and resources.
Your presentation should tell the story of your project so that it explains your project and shows your understanding and interest in your work. This is a recommended format.
There are several accepted formats for a Final Report, also called a Research Paper or a Lab Report. This is one recommendation:
You can update your project, but you cannot add any new procedures. You can repeat trials, but not try to test something in a new way. You must stay consistent with your research plan that was reviewed and approved by the SRC committees. Fixing up slides and graphs is fine and even encouraged!
You should not rename your project or change categories for judging after the Regional Fair.
Click HERE for a combined rubric for Science, Engineering and Math Projects
The judging rubric will be updated for the 2024 Fairs.
One set of safety guidelines refers to the time during which you are doing your experiment. The other set of safety guidelines refers to what you can bring the day of the science fair as part of your project display. Some of the guidelines overlap, but there are differences, so be sure to look at both sets. Consult the manual for more information. On the day of the science fair, there will be safety checks of all projects before the judging takes place.
ISEF, (International Science and Engineering Fair) is a national competition for top high school winners from the Regional Fairs. MSEF informs students of their selection and provides all necessary information for participation.
Please note: some MSEF rules and expectations vary. If you are competing at MSEF it is important to familiarize yourself with the state specific rules in the High School manual linked above.