Display Guidelines

Project Dimensions

All exhibits must have a backdrop with a Minimum size of height 80 cm (28 in) x width 41 cm (22 in). Maximum height is 274 cm (108 in) including table (table height is 76cm [30 in]). The width is not to exceed 122 cm (48 in) from side to side. Depth is not to exceed 76 cm (30 in) from front and back. Projects must stand alone. 

The science fair project display should be designed to communicate the student's previous work. It is not necessary for the display to contain all of the experimental apparatus and materials. In general, these items make the display more likely to be damaged or cause damage to other projects. The sides of the project board should be able to fold in and lie flat. The following guidelines should be observed:

  1. All exhibits must have a small label with the student's name, grade, school and teacher centered on the back top edge of the project. The label should not be visible from the front of the project. Logbook covers and Research Report should display the project title. Student name, grade, school and teacher should be on the last page of the logbook; that last page can be folded in half to cover that information during judging. The exhibit title should be limited to six words or less, and a maximum of 50 letters/characters.
  2. All projects must follow rules and guidelines of Science Engineering Fair of Houston, found on the website at www.sefhouston.org.
  3. The display of anything that could be hazardous to the public or facility is prohibited. Fair director reserves the right to remove items from the display. The most common infractions are listed below.
  • No living organisms, including plants and animals.
  • No animal parts may be displayed including hair, teeth, nails, dried animal bones, blood, histological dry mount sections and completely sealed wet mount tissue slides.
  • No chemical substances may be displayed. No batteries or light bulbs can be displayed. 
  • No liquids, including water, may be displayed, except as allowed in SEFH rules (see website).
  • Any containers of commercial products displayed should be empty and clean. This includes food products, cleaning products, etc.
  • No open flames or projectiles permitted. 
  • No cultures of mold or bacteria may be exhibited.
  • No food may be displayed including gum, candy, dried beans, seeds, sugar, spices and salt. No crystals may be displayed.
  • No glass or glass containers may be included in the display at the elementary level. No glass thermometers or magnifying glasses.
  • No soil, dirt, rocks, gravel, clay, play dough, or sand may be exhibited. No fertilizers, chemicals, or pesticides may be displayed.

4. Photographs of the experiment are encouraged. Those photographs document the experimental set-up and results of the experiment more effectively than bringing the equipment to display in front of the project board. The SEFH web site should be checked for specific restrictions. Photographs showing the student doing the research ARE allowable. Photos that allow identification of other people are not allowed.

Secondary Science Fair Experiment Guidelines

All secondary projects must follow guidelines of the Science Engineering Fair of Houston (SEFH) and International Science and Engineering Fair to be eligible for District Science Fair judging. All projects must be registered through Scienteer, which is the online registration program. The identical repetition of a previous year’s project is not permitted. 


Experimenting with Vertebrates

There is an increasing concern over the use of vertebrates in student experimentation. Behavioral experiments are preferable over physiological experiments. The guidelines for working with vertebrates are included on the SEFH webpage. They include:

·         No animal may be deprived of food or water at any time for any reason.

·         Animals may not be exposed to any conditions that may be considered harmful.

·         Animals may not be sacrificed for the purpose of the experimentation.

·         Animals must be provided quality care after the experiment is concluded.

·         No dissection or surgical procedure may be used.


Experimenting with Human Subjects

All rules concerning the use of vertebrates must be followed in working with human subjects. Teachers, IRB, and SRC must review all surveys students may use prior to approval. Extremely personal data and controversial topics (sex, diseases, etc.) should be avoided. No individual can be identified.


Working with Bacteria/Fungi and other Microorganisms

Any experiment involving the culture or growth of microorganisms or fungi (mold) must be carried out under adult supervision and cannot be done at home. All contaminated substances should be disposed of in a sanitary method at the conclusion of the experiment. SRC approval is required.


Working with Hazardous Substances

All chemical substances should be used under adult supervision. Hazardous substances should not be used. Controlled substances including prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco may not be used without SRC approval and in accordance with state and federal penal codes. Safety measures must be thoroughly addressed in the procedures.


All students should review the SEFH website at http://www.sefhouston.org/ or the International Science Engineering Fair website http://www.societyforscience.org/ISEF/ for exact rules concerning both experimentation and project display.