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The Adult Sponsor An Adult Sponsor may be a teacher, parent, university professor, or scientist in whose lab the student is working. This individual must have a solid background in science and should have close contact with the student during the course of the project.

The Adult Sponsor is responsible for working with the student to evaluate any possible risks involved in order to ensure the health and safety of the student conducting the research and the humans or animals involved in the study. The Adult Sponsor must review the student’s Student Checklist (1A) and Research Plan to make sure that: a) experimentation is done within local, state, and federal laws and these International Rules; b) that forms are completed by other adults involved in approving or supervising any part of the experiment; and c) that criteria for the Qualified Scientist adhere to those set forth below.

The Adult Sponsor must be familiar with the regulations that govern potentially dangerous research as they apply to a specific student project. These may include chemical and equipment usage, experimental techniques, research involving human or vertebrate animals, and cell cultures, microorganisms, or animal tissues. The issues must be discussed with the student when completing the Research Plan. Some experiments involve procedures or materials that are regulated by state and federal laws. If not thoroughly familiar with the regulations, the Adult Sponsor should help the student enlist the aid of a Qualified Scientist.

The Adult Sponsor is responsible for online registration with a NWSES fair.

Science Fair Judge The most important qualification for any judge is the willingness to commit the time and energy to honor the hard work of the students and to encourage their further interest in science, math and engineering. Fairs in the using the AFOR system utilize both Category Judges and Special Award Judges. Category judges select the category in which they wish to judge, and their procedures are specified by the Judge Coordinator. Special Award judges serve individual organizations that wish to provide awards, and these groups set their own eligibility criteria for judges and procedures for judging. Judges should have an MA, MS, or Ph.D. (preferred) in the category in which they choose to judge, or in a closely related field. Professionals at the Bachelor's level with three or more years of relevant experience are also eligible to serve as high school judges. Previous experience in judging science fairs at the local, state, or national level is helpful.

Scientific Review Committee A Scientific Review Committee (SRC) is a group of qualified individuals that is responsible for evaluation of student research, certifications, research plans and exhibits for compliance with the Rules and pertinent laws and regulations. Local SRCs may be formed to assist the ISEF Affiliated Fair SRC in reviewing and approving projects. The operation and composition of the local and ISEF-Affiliated Fair SRC's must fully comply with the International Rules.

Any proposed research in the following areas must be reviewed and approved BEFORE experimentation: projects involving vertebrates and potentially hazardous biological agents. (Human studies reviewed and approved by a properly constituted IRB do not have to be reviewed by the SRC until the Fair competition.) ALL projects must be reviewed and approved by the SRC after experimentation and shortly before competition in an ISEF affiliated fair competition. (Projects requiring pre-approval which were conducted at a regulated research institution (not home or high school, etc.) and which were reviewed and approved by the proper institutional board before experimentation must also be reviewed by the Fair SRC for rules compliance.)

An SRC must consist of a minimum of three persons. The SRC must include:

  1. a biomedical scientist (Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., or D.O.)
  2. a science teacher
  3. at least one other member

Additional ExpertiseMany projects will require additional expertise to properly evaluate (for instance, extended knowledge of bio-safety or of human risk groups.) If animal research is involved, at least one member must be familiar with proper animal care procedures. If the SRC needs an expert as one of its members and one is not in the immediate area, then documented contact with an external expert is appropriate and encouraged. In order to eliminate conflict of interest, the Adult Sponsor, parents, the Qualified Scientist, and the Designated Supervisor must not serve on the SRC reviewing that project.

Additional members are recommended to help avoid this conflict of interest and to increase the expertise of the committee. A Scientific Review Committee (SRC) examines projects for the following:

  1. evidence of literature search
  2. evidence of proper supervision
  3. use of accepted and appropriate research techniques
  4. completed forms, signatures and dates showing maximum of one year duration of research and appropriate pre-approval dates (when needed)
  5. evidence of search for alternatives to animal use
  6. humane treatment of animals
  7. compliance with rules and laws governing human and animal research
  8. compliance with rules regarding potentially hazardous biological agents
  9. documentation of substantial expansion for continuation projects
  10. compliance with the ISEF ethics statement

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