University of Southern Indiana

For Exhibitors (K - 8)

Elementary/Junior Division (K-8)


What kind of project would you like to do? Below is a list of the types of experiments that are acceptable for the Tri-State Science and Engineering Fair (TSEF). 

  • Animal Sciences
  • Behaviors and Social Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Energy: Physical and Chemical
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Microbiology and Molecular/Cellular Biology
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Plant Sciences
  • Robotics, Computers, and Systems Software

Junior Division HSEF Advancement Track

Exhibitors in grades 6 - 8 who wish to be considered for Grand Awards and advancement to the 2019 Hoosier State Science and Engineering Fair (HSEF) must abide by all rules found in the Rules for Indiana Elementary and Middle School Science Research Handbook. A research paper is also necessary in order to be competitive at the state level.  Research papers are not necessary for exhibitors not wishing to advance to the HSEF. Directions and recommendations on how to write your research paper can be found on pages 7-8 of the handbook. The Indiana Junior Division Project Form is required in order to advance to the HSEF. For more information, see below. 

Indiana Junior Division Project Form

Exhibitors in grades 6 - 8 must complete and upload the Indiana Junior Division Project Form to the SEFI website upon registration. This form requires a teacher/adult sponsor signature. The original should be present with the exhibitor at the fair. 


Overall safety for everyone involved is of the utmost importance as you plan and conduct your science fair experiment. For this reason, there are guidelines you must follow as a junior/elementary division exhibitor. 

International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) paperwork is not necessary for exhibitors in grades K-8 (elementary/junior division).  Your teacher is expected to provide you with rules and guidance regarding safety throughout your research experience. Teachers and adult sponsors are responsible for making sure you follow the rules laid out in the Rules for Indiana Elementary and Middle School Science Research Handbook. Some research topics are prohibited or heavily restricted for students in grades K-8. Below is not a comprehensive list.  Teachers who have concerns about projects should contact the fair director for guidance prior to the start of experimentation.  

Bacterial Studies

No bacterial studies for students in grades K-5 will be permitted to exhibit at the TSEF. 

Students in grades 6-8 may conduct bacterial studies ONLY if their teacher can provide documentation that they have been trained and certified for BSL-1 work and that the research is being conducted in a BSL-1 laboratory. Contact TSEF Fair Director at for more information.


Human Subjects

Human Subjects  may be used only if all experimentation is conducted under adult supervision and student researchers have notified parents of the conditions of experiment and provided the opportunity for their child to opt out of participation. Teachers/adult sponsors are responsible for the approval and safety of all participants involved in the experiment.  Teachers should not approve potentially unsafe research. 

If your research project involves human subjects, including any experiments on yourself, you must have each participant complete an Informed Consent form. A sample can be found on the ISEF web site. Your teacher may already have a sample for you to use in your study. Informed consent forms must include:

  • Purpose of the project
  • What the person in the study (the "subject") will be asked to do
  • An adult's name and phone or email (usually a teacher) who a parent can contact with furtherquestions
  • A place for the subject to sign and date
  • A place for the subject's parent or guardian to sign (if the subject is under 18)

Animal Behavior Studies

Research projects involving animals must be reviewed and authorized in writing by a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine to ensure the safety of the student and the animals. Detailed documentation of authorization of the research plan must be presented with the student's exhibit. 


  • Radioactive substances - or equipment that emits an form of ionizing radiation 
  • Hazardous chemicals or reagents - examples: DEA controlled substances, tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, firearms or explosives. 
  • Biological agent experiments conducted at home - projects that use or study microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, prions, fungi, and parasites. The study of mold on food items (e.g. bread) is permitted if the specimen is destroyed at the first sign of mold. 
  • Vertebrate animal research involving pain or withholding of food or water - All vertebrate research must be authorized in writing by a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. 
  • Class IV lasers - Use of any laser must be under the direct supervision of a qualified adult. Class IV lasers are strictly prohibited.

Display Rules

The TSEF dislpay rules must be followed by all exhibitors at the regional fair, regardless of the rules used at the student's local fair. Fair personnel will inspect all exhibits for compliance with these rules and any non-conforming items must be removed from the display. 

Checklist - Junior/Elementary Division Registration

__   Read Rules for Indiana Elementary and Middle School Science Research Handbook.

__   Gain project approval from teacher/adult sponsor. Exhibitors in grades 6-8 must complete the Indiana Junior Division Project Form and ask teacher/adult sponsor to review the paper and sign off on it.  

__   Conduct your experiment. Collect data in laboratory book. 

__   Write your research paper (only necessary for those exhibitors in grades 6-8 wishing to advance to the HSEF).  (See Rules for Indiana Elementary and Middle School Science Research Handbook for instructions.)

__   Teacher/adult sponsor adds you as an exhibitor at (deadline: February 1, 2019)

__   Log into the registration system using your own username and password (provided by teacher/adult sponsor), complete the personal registration fields, project abstract, and upload the Indiana Junior Project Form (grades 6-8 only) at (deadline February 15, 2019)

__   Inform your teacher/adult sponsor that your registration is complete. Teacher/adult sponsor logs into the registration system and "advances" you to the Tri-State Science and Engineering Fair. 

__   Create project presentation board.  Make a copy of your research paper and Indiana Junior Division Project Form available at the TSEF judging session.  Research papers are not necessary for exhibitors in grades 6 -8 not wishing to advance to the HSEF. Research papers  are not necessary for elementary division (K-5). 

Contact Allison Grabert


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