Student Eligibility Policy

Students are eligible for participation in the Massachusetts Science & Engineering Fair (MSEF) and Affiliated Regional Fairs based on their enrollment in a Massachusetts School (grades 6-12) regardless of their state of residency.

Eligibility in Science Fair is based on school affiliation.

  • Students should coordinate with their school to identify a teacher to support their project. Students represent their schools so permission for participation, oversight of the project work and alignment with school rules and policies is important for integrity and safety. A teacher may serve one or both of these roles:
    • TEACHER: Provide permission to participate as a representative of the school; Oversee academic integrity and ethics of the project; Create a zFairs acct to indicate approval and communicate with fair organization about participation at event(s)
    • ADULT SPONSOR: Provide oversight of scientific integrity, ethics, and safety of the project; signs forms as Adult Sponsor; May be the teacher but may also be another teacher at the school or an outside professional
  • Students who do not have their schools’ support may have a path to participation through non-profit or municipal organizations. Contact [email protected] for details and eligibility BEFORE beginning work.*
  • Students who are registered as state-approved homeschool are eligible to participate based on the town where they live.
  • Students who attend virtual schools are eligible based on the town where they live. Their affiliation will be listed as ‘name of school, hometown.’

Students from a Massachusetts High School (9-12th grade) or Middle School (6-8th grade) are eligible for competition in MSEF either by direct entry from their enrolled school or by participation in their school’s Regional Fair. Upon entry in MSEF or a MSEF affiliated fair, the student agrees not to participate in a science fair competition in another state or country, within the same year, in accordance with the MSEF Ethics Statement.

All student projects must go through the approval process and timeline for the Regional Fair to participate in either pathway. All rules must be followed and forms must be complete.

  1. Regional Fair Promotion:Through competition at a Regional Fair, top scoring projects are awarded eligibility to enter the statewide Massachusetts Science & Engineering Fair (MSEF) as well as the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) or Thermo Fisher Junior Innovators Challenge for Middle School.
  • This is the primary pathway for State Fair participation. Through the Regional Science Fairs, students have the advantage of gaining feedback from expert judges on how to improve their projects and presentation, enabling students to refine their work before the statewide Science Fair.
  • Eligible Students will receive further instructions to confirm their participation in the statewide fair. Confirmation must be received by deadlines given or they forfeit their chance to participate.
  1. Direct Entry:In addition to projects awarded entry in the statewide fair, each high school or middle school may send up to two additional projects (either individual or team projects).
  • To qualify for direct entry, a project must already have been approved by regional deadlines.
  • One teacher representative per school must submit student names to participate. Direct entry names/projects must be provided and confirmed by the school to MSEF at [email protected]within 5 school days after the date of your regional fair award ceremony. Review these dates at the regional zFairs site.

National and International Competitions:

  • High School: ISEF delegates are chosen by the top winning project at the Regional Fair and the top several winning projects at the State Fair. Students who secure a spot at ISEF at the Regional competition must still attend the State Fair.
  • Middle School: Eligibility for the Thermo Fisher Junior Innovators Challenge is determined based on the top 10% of projects at the Regional and at the State Fair. Students then apply for further consideration


*Note: if the student’s school has an existing Science Fair program, coordination must happen between MSEF, the Region, and school leadership in advance of participation due to participation project limits at the regional fairs.