Middle School Fairs

Rules & Guidelines

Explore the most recent Middle School Manual for requirements, regulations and expectations for the fair.

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Project Requirements:

Please see manual for more details


Projects should only include research done in the current school year to be eligible for participation.


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.


Required forms must be submitted to the Regional Scientific Review Committee for approval BEFORE starting experimentation.


Students are required to keep a bound or digital notebook with original and dated entries to record each step taking in the development of the project.


Students must have a final lab report, complete with works cited. This should include all the steps of the scientific method or the engineering design process.


Students must have a visual display prepared for presentation at the Fair. Consult the manual for restrictions on materials for the Fair presentation and venue.

The Judging Experience

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/Scorecard with your students to help them prepare for the experience.

View Judging Rubric »

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is pre-approval?

    Students who engage in research in the following categories MUST get prior approval before starting experimentation. This prior approval MUST come from the Regional Middle School Scientific Review Committee (SRC) for projects that involve

    • Human participants/subjects
    • Hazardous or toxic chemicals
    • Remote Vertebrate Animal projects
    • Potentially hazardous biological agents (e.coli K-12)
    • Research performed in an industrial/institutional setting
  • What are the forms I may need to submit for review and approval?

    The following forms must be uploaded to the student’s Middle School Regional zFairs account:

    • Forms 1A and 1B : Research Plans are required for ALL PROJECTS
    • Form C: Human Informed Consent Form that will be given to subjects before experimentation, if applicable
    • Form D: Designated Supervisor Form, if applicable

    Student must retain a copy of any/all forms.

  • What are the materials required to be judged at MSEF?
    • Display Board (you can upload your PDF or slides to zFairs but a project board must be displayed when fairs are in person)
    • Lab Report with work cited
    • Bound or digital logbook


    More information about requirements and related resources can be found in this slideshow.

  • Why are there two sets of safety guidelines?

    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.

  • What is Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge (JIC)?

    The Thermo Fisher JIC (Junior Innovators Challenge) is a national competition for the top 10% of winners from all middle school regional and state fairs. Students with qualified projects receive a certificate and information about submitting their projects online. It is the student’s responsibility to submit their project by the deadline.

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