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Experiment Rules and Guidelines

All exhibits must be individual projects to be eligible for judging. Teachers, parents, and sponsors should supervise rather than assist in project completion. The identical repetition of a previous year’s project is not permitted.


Experimenting with Vertebrates and Invertebrates

There is an increasing concern over the use of vertebrates in student experimentation. Secondary students are greatly limited by the rules of the International Science and Engineering Fair. For elementary students, teachers should carefully review projects involving vertebrates and invertebrates and encourage students to first and foremost consider the safety and care of the animal. Behavioral experiments are preferable over physiological experiments. The guidelines below MUST be followed when working with vertebrates and invertebrates.

·    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 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 must approve of all surveys students may use. Extremely personal data and controversial topics (sex, diseases, etc.) should be avoided. No individual experimental subject should be identified or photographed.

Working with Bacteria/Fungi

Any experiment involving the culture or growth of microorganisms or fungi (mold) must be carried out under adult supervision. Cultures must remain sealed at all times. No cultures, rotted food, or other contaminated substances may be displayed with the project. All contaminated substances should be disposed of in a sanitary method at the conclusion of the experiment.

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 should not be used.

Helpful Hint!
Photographs of the experiment are encouraged
. 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 Houston Science & Engineering Fair 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.