Important Dates & Times

Wednesday November 01, 2023 at 12:00 AM
Thursday January 18, 2024 at 11:59 PM
Friday February 23, 2024 at 7:30 AM
Friday February 23, 2024 at 9:00 AM
Friday February 23, 2024 at 11:30 PM
Friday February 23, 2024 at 3:00 PM

Rules & Regulations: Middle School / High School Division 

The science fair project is the culmination of hard work and persistent investigation. It affords a young scientist the opportunity to share their interests with parents, relatives, neighbors, and teachers as well as the chance to be interviewed by the judges who are scientists, engineers, doctors, and others with scientific interests.

The opportunity significantly contributes to the education of students in the thinking process of formulating the project and actually doing the experiments. It may mean the beginning of a life-long fascination with science.

The Southern Minnesota Regional Science & Engineering Fair Program is affiliated with the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) Program. As such, the fair follows the rules set-forth by ISEF. The following will guide you through: 


Eligibility Requirements

Any individual student or a team consisting of two to three students in grades 6th through 12th, currently attending school or is home schooled in the Southern Minnesota Territory.  The Southern Minnesota Territy includes the following counties: Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Faribault, Freeborn, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Scott, Sibley, Stearns, Swift, Waseca, Watonwan, Yellow Medicine.

  • A student may participate in and register only one (1) research project per year and/or one (1) research paper per year.
  • All team projects and/or research papers must be in the same division, grades 6th-8th or 9th-12th. 
  • Teams may consist of no more than three (3) individuals.
  • Team must include all members at the time of registration, even if not all of the students attend the fair.
  • All research projects and research papers must comply with International Science and Enginering Fair (ISEF) and/or Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) rules and guidelines.


Accompanying Adult

All students must be accompanied by an adult. An accompanying adult (i.e., parent/legal guardian, guardian, or teacher) must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Remain present and on premises.
  • Maintain active supervision and ensure the safety and well-being of the student throughout the event.
  • Comply with all rules, policies and guidelines set forth by the Southern Minnesota Regional Science and Engineering Fair, including any safety measures or requirements.
  • Responsible for any necessary assistance, including medical or emergency assistance, if required for the student.
  • Promptly inform the Science Fair Staff or authorities of any concerns, incidents or emergencies that may arise during the event.


Scientific Review of a Project   


To document compliance with the rules, you are required to complete a series of forms PRIOR to the start of your project. These forms are called SRC Project FormsSRC stands for the Scientific Review Committee, which is explained in a section below. 

SRC Project Forms required before beginning ANY project include: 

  • Form 1: Checklist for Adult Sponsor Checklist
  • Form 1A: Student Checklist and Research Plan
  • Form 1B: Approval Form

Some projects will require additional forms and IRB/SRC approval PRIOR to beginning the project. Common reasons for needing additional forms and prior approval include projects involving: 

  • Biological tissues (including spit, blood, etc.), 
  • Microorganisms, 
  • Hazardous chemicals/activities, 
  • Human participants/subjects, 
  • Vertebrate animals, 
  • Conducted in a research institute, or 
  • Continuation of previous year's project. 

After completion of the project, you are required to submit an Official Abstract. Some projects may require other additional forms. 

You must also bring a copy of your SRC Project Forms with you on fair day. You should always keep the originals. We will not print forms for you the day of the fair. 

When completing all forms, be careful about all dates entered – specifically those on Form 1A, Form 1B, and Form 1C. Some dates must be before or after the start/end dates of your project. Read the directions carefully by each date field. 


SRC Project Forms 

Make SRC paperwork a breeze this year!  We are strongly encouraging ALL middle and high school participants to use the ISEF App to complete their SRC paperwork.  It will make the process for completing SRC paperwork and gathering needed signatures a breeze.  The ISEF App will do all the "filling in the forms" work for you and help ensure your paperwork is complete and in order through a series of questions and prompts.  Here are some helpful videos to get you started: 


All SRC Project Forms can be downloaded for completion.  It is recommended that you save each form to your computer before typing in it as some forms will not keep typed text if your save after typing.  If using this method to complete your SRC paperwork, it is recommended that ALL students use the Rules Wizard before starting a project.


Scientific Review Committee (SRC)

The Scientific Review Committee (SRC) is a formal group of education and scientific professionals that review students SRC Project Forms for compliance with the ISEF and regional fair rules. The Institutional Review Board is a formal group of education and scientific professionals that review students SRC
Project Forms for compliance related specifically to studies with human participants rules. Most of the time the SRC and IRB are a joint committee. 


Local and Affiliate Fair SRC Form Approval 

Most schools have a local SRC/IRB that will review and approve your SRC Project Forms before submitting them to the MSU SRC/IRB through the submission process below. The MSU SRC/IRB is the affiliate to the Intel ISEF. 

On Form 1B: Approval Form, the local SRC/IRB should complete section 2, while the affiliate SRC/IRB at MSU will complete section 3 of the form. 

In order to eliminate conflict of interest, the Adult Sponsor, parents, the Qualified Scientist, and the Designated Supervisor must not serve on the local or affiliate SRC reviewing that project. 

Science Fair SRC Webinars 

To help adult sponsors and teachers stay up-to-date with the Scientific Review Process we hosted informative webinars in back 2019. *Note: Part 5: Submission and Review Process is no longer applicable due to the changes in the registration process. 


SRC Project Form Submission

**Due January 18, 2024** 

A copy of the SRC Project Forms must be submitted to the Minnesota State University, Mankato SRC/IRB via zFairs "Paperwork Upload Wizard" by the deadline date.

Direct any SRC/IRB related questions to 


Team Projects  

Teams may consist of no more than three (3) individuals. Once a project has started, members cannot be added or removed. If the project advances to the Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair, all members must register and pay the registration fee, even if a member will not be attending the fair. 


Display and Safety 

Your project display must meet all ISEF Display and Safety Regulations. Prior to the start of judging on the day of the fair, a Display and Safety Inspector will review your project display. It is strongly recommended that before coming to the fair, you inspect your project display using the Display and Safety Checklist that will be used by the inspector. 

Note: Each project must receive Display and Safety clearance from the Scientific Research Committee upon entering the Southern Minnesota Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Any and all prohibited items that do not adhere to this policy will be removed from the project display. In the case a project includes an item that is prohibited from display, please consider taking photographs and/or documenting the significance of the prohibited item.


Additional Information and Resources

NEW! Regeneron ISEF 2023-2024 Rules Changes

ISEF Rules and Guidelines


Minnesota Academy of Science

2023 SSEF Project Presentation Guidelines

Society for Science

Display & Safety Rules

Display and Safety Checklist

Thermo Fischer Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge - Middle School Competition

Middle School Science Fair Paperwork Reference Guide

Project/Paper Guide 

Research Project Categories 



The Regional Science & Engineering Fair Program in Mankato has a rich history involving many participating students, parents, teachers, principals, business and community leaders, judges, faculty from neighboring colleges, MSU administrators, MSU faculty, staff and students — both undergraduates and graduates. Minnesota State University, Mankato has been hosting the science and engineering fair since 1951! 

It has been exciting to see the growth of the fair. Hundreds of volunteers (judges, coordinators, etc.) help with the fair annually. For students in grades 3-6, the regional fair is the climax of their yearlong activities. Grades 6-12 are eligible to continue on to the state fair, and grades 9-12 are eligible to compete in the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair. As of 2012, 6th graders can participate in either the Middle School/Senior High Fair or the Elementary Fair. For many students, the science fair program has been the beginning of a life-long fascination with science or an introduction to a science-related career. For judges and adult volunteers, science fair days provide an opportunity to mentor students, visit with colleagues in their discipline and renew acquaintances.

The early years of the fair are currently being researched. This task is complicated by the lack of programs in many of the early years, the deaths of key individuals, and the loss of records. If you or your family have information on any of these early years, please contact us. The following narrative, then, is a brief history.


The planning for the first annual science fair began with Dr. Leonard Ford and his science fair committee in 1951-52 academic year. Dr. Ford became the fair’s first director and continued for many years. The fair was held on the lower campus and included exhibits and demonstrations by the faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students of MSU. High school and grade school students were invited to attend the fair but did not yet participate.

Dr. Harold Hartzler also served as director during the early years of the fair. The fair continued to be held on the lower campus, but eventually included only exhibits by high school and grade school students. The fair continued to be relatively small by today’s standards through 1976, and a variety of sites were used before eventually moving the Science Fair Office to the upper campus.

Dr. Bill Edwards, Dr. Bob Graham and Dr. Bill Rankin also served as directors before 1979 because the biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics departments took it in turn to share the responsibility. Throughout the early years the directors accomplished the tasks of preparing for the fairs through committees, or with the help of departmental secretaries, work-study students, and student help.

In early 1979, Dr. Bill Bessler became the director and guided the fair during the next twenty years. During this time the fair experienced its most active period of growth, growing from about 275 participants to over 2,000. In 1985, because of the large growth, the science fair program was awarded a half-time secretarial/coordinator position through the assistance of Dr. John Frey (then Chair of Biology) and Dr. V. Dean Turner (then Dean of the College). Mary Zernechel, also the Biology Secretary, filled this position.

Dr. Bessler remained the sole director of the fair until the 1994-1995 academic year when Dr. Gregg Marg became co-director. After the 1995 Science Fair, Dr. Marg continued as the sole director of the fair until 2003 when Dr. Bessler left. In 2003 Mary Zernechel also left her position as science fair secretary/coordinator.

Mr. James Ballard became the director of the fair during the 2003-2004 academic year but left after one year. During this time the secretarial/coordinator position remained vacant, although student help was still used.

Dr. Bessler returned as director during the 2004-2005 academic year and remained so until after the fair in 2012. At the end of the 2004 calendar year, Mary Van Duynhoven accepted the science fair secretary/coordinator position and held the position until 2012.

Dr. Shannon Fisher became the director during the 2012-2013 academic year and now holds the position. Beth Rorvig accepted the science fair coordinator position in early 2013 and also continues to hold the position today.

Mr. Jimmy Thorne will served as the director from 2014-2017.

Ms. Shveta Agarwal is the director since 2017.


With the eventual move of the science fair office to the upper campus, the fair site also moved. The fair was held in the halls of the new Trafton Science Center, but eventually moved into Highland Arena (now Otto Arena). The junior/senior high students were in the balcony area and the elementary students were on the floor area. During this time the fair was held on only one day.

In 1986, after a near miss by a blizzard and with increased growth, the fair was split into the Junior/Senior Fair and the Elementary Fair. The Junior/Senior High Fair continued to be held in March but the Elementary Fair was moved to April. The Junior/Senior High Science Fair moved to the Student Union where it is now held in February as the Middle School/Senior High School Science Fair.

The Elementary Fair was now so large that after 1986 it was split between Otto Arena, the indoors field house (now Myers Field House), and Highland North addition gymnasium (now Schellberg Gymnasium). From 2002 to 2012 the Elementary Fair was held in The Taylor Center and Myers Field House. The Elementary Fair is now being held only in Myers Field House.

Names and Boundaries

The fair has held many titles over the years and incorporated different counties. Before state regional boundaries were established, the fair allowed the participation of all willing schools. After state regional boundaries were established, the southern portion of the state split into two regions: Southwestern and Southeastern. Mankato State College hosted the Southwest Minnesota Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

In the early 1970’s the Southwestern Fair was split into two regions — the Southwest Minnesota Regional Science and Engineering Fair (hosted by briefly by Southwest State) and the South Central Minnesota Regional Science and Engineering Fair (hosted by Mankato State College).

By 1974 Mankato had begun to host both the Southwest and South Central regions until Lakefield took over the Southwest Region in time for the 1977 fair, which was known as the 1st annual Southwest Minnesota Regional Science and Engineering Fair. This only lasted through 1978 when it returned to Mankato for the 1979 fair. Although the fairs recombined they were symbolically kept separate as the 3rd annual Southwest Fair and 28th annual South Central Fair. This numbering continued until 2012 when it simply became known as the 61st annual Science Fair.

In 1984, the regional affiliation with Intel ISEF increased as both the Southwest and the South Central regions were divided into North and South. MSU continues to host the four Intel ISEF affiliated regions (South Central North, South Central South, Southwest North, and Southwest South), but under the state affiliated region names (South Central and Southwest).

Starting in 2012 both fairs were opened to 6th graders. Because of this the Junior/Senior High Fair changed names and became the Middle School/Senior High School Science Fair.

In 2013 the two regional fairs officially combined and became known collectively as the Southern Region. Currently the official name for the science fair program is the Southern Minnesota Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

ISEF Participation

Early on the fair became affiliated with the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF). In the beginning, two students and their teachers/sponsors were given the opportunity to compete internationally. In 1979, as MSU hosted two regions, four students were able to be sent to ISEF with their teachers/sponsors. Since 1984, when ISEF split the two regions in half (creating the SCN, SCS, SWN and SWS regions), the fair has been able to send eight students to the Intel ISEF. Now the number of students sent to ISEF is no longer based upon the number of ISEF affiliated regions, but instead is based upon the number of schools and students participating in each state affiliated regional fair. We are within the top 10 largest ISEF affiliated regional scinece and engineering fairs in the United States!

Public Display

All exhibits will be open to the public for viewing on February 23, 2024 from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m All are welcome in the Centennial Student Union (CSU) during this time!


Awards Ceremony

The Awards Ceremony will follow at 2:00 p.m. located in the Ostrander Auditorium.  Doors open at 1:30 p.m.  All are welcome to come celebrate the acheivements of students exhibiting at the fair!


Note: These times are tentative until the 2024 fair schedule has been finalized.


73rd Annual Regional Science & Engineering Fair: Middle School / High School Division

Date: Friday, February 23, 2024

Location: Centennial Student Union Ballroom on the Minnesota State University, Mankato Campus


Fair Day Checklist


Event Overview


  • Check-in
  • Exibit Set-up
  • Display and Safety Compliance Checks


  • Ribbon Judging
  • Special Award Judging
  • Research Paper Judging & Oral Presentations


  • Exibits open for public viewing
  • Lunch Break
  • Free Time
  • Campus Tours


  • Project exhibit take-down and removal

Awards Ceremony


Maps & Directions 

Campus Maps 

Driving Directions 

2023 Schedule of Events

2023 Science Fair Map

Animal Sciences

This category includes all aspects of animals and animal life, animal life cycles, and animal interactions with one another or with their environment. Examples of investigations included in this category would involve the study of the structure, physiology, development, and classification of animals, animal ecology, animal husbandry, entomology, ichthyology, ornithology, and herpetology, as well as the study of animals at the cellular and molecular level which would include cytology, histology, and cellular physiology. 

Behavioral and Social Sciences

The science or study of the thought processes and behavior of humans and other animals in their interactions with the environment studied through observational and experimental methods. 


The study of the chemical basis of processes occurring in living organisms, including the processes by which these substances enter into, or are formed in, the organisms and react with each other and the environment. 

Biomedical and Health Sciences

This category focuses on studies specifically designed to address issues of human health and disease. It includes studies on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention or epidemiology of disease and other damage to the human body or mental systems. Includes studies of normal functioning and may investigate internal as well as external factors such as feedback mechanisms, stress or environmental impact on human health and disease. 

Biomedical Engineering

Projects that aim to improve human health and longevity by translating novel discoveries in the biomedical sciences into effective activites and tools for clinical and public health use. Bi-directional in concept, projects can be those developed through basic research moving toward clinical testing (bench-to-bedside) or projects that provide feedback about the applications of new treatments and how they can be improved (bedside-to-bench).

Biomedical Sciences [Research Paper]

Biomedical medicine, Microbiology, Cellular/Molecular Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Pharmacology, Virology

Cellular and Molecular Biology

This is an interdisciplinary field that studies the structure, function, intracellular pathways, and formation of cells. Studies involve understanding life and cellular processes specifically at the molecular level. 


Studies exploring the science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter not involving biochemical systems. 

Chemistry [Research Paper]

Physical Chemistry, Materials, Alternative Fuels, Organic Chemistry (possibly in life science), Chemical Engineering, Earth Science, Geochemistry, Engery - Alternative Fuels, Material Science

Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

Studies that primarily focus on the discipline and techniques of computer science and mathematics as they relate to biological systems. This includes the development and application of data-analytical and theoretical methods, mathematical modeling and computational simulation techniques to the study of biological, behavior, and social systems. 

Earth and Environmental Sciences

Studies of the environment and its effect on organisms/systems, including investigations of biological processes such as growth and life span, as well as studies of Earth systems and their evolution. 

Embedded Systems

Studies involving electrical systems in which information is conveyed via signals and waveforms for purposes of enhancing communications, control and/or sensing. 

Energy: Sustainable Materials and Design

Studies/processes involving the production and/or storage of energy. 

Engineering and Technology [Research Paper]

Aerospace, Aerodynamics, Electrical Engineering, Engery - Solar, Vehicle Development, Devices, Mechanical Engineering, Robotics

Engineering Technology: Statics and Dynamics

Studies that focus on the science and engineering that involve movement or structure. The movement will be a result of forces; the structure will be stable due to the equilibrium of forces. 

Environmental Engineering

Studies that engineer or develop processes and infrastructure to solve environmental problems in the supply of water, the disposal of waste, or the control of pollution. 

Environmental Science [Research Paper]

 Environmental Science/Engineering: Bioremediation, Ecosystems management, Environmental engineering, Land Resource Management, Pollution, toxicity; impact upon ecostyem  

Life and Behavioral Sciences [Research Paper]

Developmental Biology, Plant Physiology, Population Genetics, General Biochemistry, Microbiology, Behavioral Sciences

Materials Science

The study of the integration of various materials forms in systems, devices, and components that rely on their unique and specific properties. It involves their synthesis and processing in the form of nanoparticles, nanofibers, and nanolayered structures, to coatings and laminates, to bulk monolithic, single-/poly-crystalline, glassy, soft/hard solid, composite, and cellular structures. It also involves measurements of various properties and characterization of the structure across length scales, in addition to multi-scale modeling and computations for process-structure and structure-property correlations. 


The study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols. The deductive study of numbers, geometry, and various abstract constructs, or structures. 

Mathematics and Computer Science [Research Paper]

Probability and Statistics, Mathematics, Computer Science - Algorithms, Databases, Networking, Computer Engineering 

Medicine and Health [Research Paper]

Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Disease Diagnosis and Treatment, Epidemiology, Immunology, Neuroscience, Physiology, Pathology


The study of micro-organisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, prokaryotes, and simple eukaryotes as well as antimicrobial and antibiotic substances. 

Physical Sciences [Research Paper]

Astronomy, Physics-theoretical, Physics-Solid state, Acoustics, Optics, Thermodynamics, Particle Physics, Quantum Physics, Nuclear; Internet of Things- network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity

Physics and Astronomy

Physics is the science of matter and energy and of interactions between the two. Astronomy is the study of anything in the universe beyond the Earth. 

Plant Sciences

Studies of plants and how they live, including structure, physiology, development, and classification. Includes plant cultivation, development, ecology, genetics and plant breeding, pathology, physiology, systematics and evolution. 

Robotics and Intelligent Machines

Studies in which the use of machine intelligence is paramount to reducing the reliance on human intervention. 

Systems Software

The study or development of software, information processes or methodologies to demonstrate, analyze, or control a process/solution. 

Technology Enhances the Arts

The use of technology to ignite new concepts, visualization tools and/or media to enhance our enjoyment of the arts. 

Translational Medical Science

Projects that aim to improve human health and longevity by translating novel discoveries in the biomedical sciences into effective activities and tools for clinical and public health use. Bi-directional in concept, projects can be those developed through basic research moving toward clinical testing (bench-to-bedside) or projects that provide feedback about the applications of new treatments and how they can be improved (beside-to-bench). 

Judging Criteria: Middle School / High School Division

The Southern Minnesota Regional Science & Engineering Fair follows the Standard for JudgingJudging Criteria and Judging Guidelines set forth by the International Science and Engineering Fair.  All judges must understand and adhere to these policies and procedures. 


Special Awards


Research Project and Paper Awards



  • White Ribbon - Selected for advancement to Minnesota State Science & Engineering Fair
  • Purple Ribbon - Project above expectations, superior in category 
  • Blue Ribbon - Project achieved expectations, satisfactory in category
  • Red Ribbon - Project met expectations; additional development opportunities were identified
  • Green Ribbon - Project has not met standard criteria


Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF)

ISEF was founded in 1950 by Society for science and Public and currently is the premier international STEM science fair with every year having about 1,800 students from 75 different countries compete!

The Southern Minnesota Regional Science & Engineering fair is an ISEF affliated fair.  Each year an ISEF representative attends our fair in search of two projects to select for ISEF advancement!  Note: Only high school projects (9th-12th grade) are eligible for ISEF selection and advancment. ISEF is typically a 6-7 day event and held in a different location each year!  Students attending ISEF also have the opportunity to experience the host city, with ISEF coordinating signups for various tours and activities. A significant component of the program is social, as students interact with each other during mixers and ceremonies. Throughout much of the week, various seminars are also held for students, mentors, and teachers.

The prizes include scholarships, tuition grants, internships, scientific field trips and the grand prizes, including one $75,000 and two $50,000 college scholarships. All prizes together amount to over $4,070,000. Two awards ceremonies are Special Awards Organization Presentation and the Grand Awards Ceremony.

What if YOUR project is chosen?

  • Minnesota State Univeristy, Mankato sponsors the trip to ISEF
  • Eligibile covered expenses include; registration fee, hotel, airfare, meals ($150 in form of gift card)  


Minnesota State Science Fair

In cooperation with other scientific organizations around the state, Minnesota Academy of Sciences (MAS) began sponsoring eight Regional Science Fairs and the Junior Academy State Science Fair in 1950. Minnesota's Science Fair program has since continued to expand. Today, the State Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF) serves as the pinnacle of our statewide continuum of K-12 science education programming, providing an opportunity for middle and high school students to showcase their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) research.

Each year, more than 500 of Minnesota's best and brightest students qualify for SSEF out of more than 3,000 students competing at Regional Science Fairs. Through this annual, project-based competition, we aim to help students become informed citizens who are well versed in scientific research methods, and to inspire them to pursue STEM majors and STEM careers.


Thermo Fischer Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge - Middle School Competition

The Southern Minnesota Regional Science & Engineering fair is an ISEF affliated fair.  Each year we are provided the opportuinity to notimate the top 10% of students in grades 6-8.  Nominees then complete an online application for a chance to complete at the national level.  Prizes and awards are awarded at mutiple levels!  

*Formerly BroadCom Masters.  More information coming soon!


Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS)

JSHS invites high school students to report on the results of their original research investigations in STEM and compete for scholarships and recognition at university-held regional symposia. Students in grades 9-12 enrolled in public, private, or home schools are eligible to participate the North Central Regional Symposium. See Rules of Competition for eligibility details.

JSHS invites students who have geographic or financial barriers may be eligible to particpate in the Virtual Region.  See JSHS Virtual Region for more details.


Additional Information and Resources

Judging Form - Scientific Method and Engineering Design

Judging Form - Research Paper

Judging Categories



Create Account

Powered by: | Privacy | Terms of Use
JavaScript is required to run this site. Please enable your browser to run JavaScript.