Any student in grades 6-12 enrolled in a public, private, parochial, military, or home school within the following counties is eligible to try for entry into the CTSEF: Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Lampasas, Limestone, McLennan, Milam, Navarro and Robertson. A student must first enter, participate in, and be judged in a local fair. However, this does not guarantee that a student will enter the CTSEF.

Participation in a local fair, and placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in one of the 18 categories, will make a student eligible to enter the Regional Fair in Junior Division (6-8 Grade) or Senior Division (9-12 grades). Schools may enter only the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place team winners as well. Your local schools may enter only the 1st, 2nd or 3rd place winner regardless of grade, in one of the 18 categories (team included). [Example: A school may enter only the top 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place per fair, per category, per school.] Not accepted for entry: 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place winners per grade.

All projects must be approved for entry by the CTSEF prior to the local school fair. Winning at the local level guarantees only that a student is eligible to apply for entry in the CTSEF. Only current year CTSEF forms and applications are used to determine participation and eligibility of a student researcher.

The project submitted to the CTSEF must be the student's own work. It is the student's responsibility to check with the CTSEF for any additional restrictions or requirements.

CTSEF may certify the top three entries from each category of the junior division and senior division to enter state competition. Junior Division projects can qualify for the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge offered by ISEF.

Two Senior Division Individual Finalists and one Team Project Finalist may be certified for international competition. Students must meet all ISEF rules and guidelines and not be over 21 years of age by May 1 of the fair year.

The CTSEF is under contract with Society for Science and the Public, and Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) to conduct the regional fair according to the rules and guidelines that ISEF has set. All CTSEF participants must observe all the rules in the handbook. Ignorance of these rules will not excuse anyone from meeting the entry requirements. The purpose of these rules is to provide basic guidance and to protect students, teachers, and parents, as well as human and animal subjects.

Ethics Statement

Scientific fraud and misconduct are not condoned at any level or research or competition. Plagiarism, use or presentation of other researcher's work as one's own, and fabrication or falsification of data will not be tolerated. Fraudulent projects will fail to qualify for competition in affiliated fairs or the ISEF. All projects must adhere to the Ethics Statement.

Important Dates and Deadlines

  • Regional Science Fair (CTSEF): February 23-24, 2016
  • State Science Fair (TSSEF): March 2016
  • International Science Fair (ISEF): May 8-13, 2016


All paperwork must be received by 5:00 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month. The last deadline to submit any new project for initial review is December 2, 2014.
* September 1 * September 15 * October 7 * October 20 * November 4 * November 17 * December 1 (no new projects allowed after this date) * December 15 (last review)

Final Corrections: Friday, January 8, 2016
Entry Forms: Friday, February 5, 2016
Bryce C. Brown Award Application: Friday, February 5, 2016
BU Scholarship Award Application: Friday, February 5, 2016

IRB Interviews

Regional IRB interviews may be required of students and will be conducted on a monthly basis. This will occur only if the IRB committee requests an interview and the student has an assigned interview time. It is the responsibility of the Teacher/Sponsor or student/s to contact the CTSEF office to schedule the interview. Students are required to attend the interview with a copy of their online submitted paperwork. The location and starting time of the IRB interview will be emailed to the Teacher/Sponsor and student/s. In some cases, a telephone interview can be scheduled with the IRB committee.

Additional review dates may be scheduled if needed and will include the months of December and January.

The date for the interview will be scheduled only after the IRB committee requests an interview. If no interview is requested, no interview is required.


  • Filing Fee for Pre-Approval/Review:
    $5.00 per student
  • Regional SRC interview (optional):
    $10.00 per project
  • Entry Fee:
    $7.00 per student

Each student submitting his/her paperwork for CTSEF approval before experimentation must pay a $5 filing fee per student. This covers any number of needed SRC reviews up to final submittal date.

Student(s) electing to meet with the SRC one-on-one must pay a total of $10 fee for this service.

Each student(s) entering the CTSEF must pay a $7 entry fee. There will be no refunds for any of these fees.

Rules For All Participants

  1. Students must participate in a local (school) fair and meet all the criteria.
  2. All CTSEF and ISEF rules and guidelines must be read, understood, and followed.
  3. To compete in the CTSEF, every student must complete the Waiver and Release of Liability Form, Student Checklist (1A), Research Plan, and Approval Form (1B), and review with his/her teacher or Adult Sponsor as teacher/sponsor completes the Checklist for Adult Sponsor (1).
  4. Projects must adhere to all Federal, State, and local laws and regulations.
  5. Students should retain all original forms. Only copies of forms should be submitted for CTSEF approval. These forms will always include at least the Checklist for Adult Sponsor (1), Student Checklist (1A), Research Plan, and Approval Form (1B).
  6. Certain projects require additional forms and/or specific reviews.
    1. All projects involving human subjects required special procedures.
      1. An Institutional Review Board (IRB) must review project and approve BEFORE experimentation begins.
      2. Human Subjects Form (4) is required for all subjects of projects involving more than minimal risk and is recommended for all projects involving human subjects.
      3. A copy of any test, survey, or questionnaire must be provided for parental review for subjects less than 18 years of age.
      4. If a school chooses to have a local Institutional Review Board (IRB) the student must have an interview with that board.
      5. After the local IRB review board has approved the students' project the student must submit the project to the CTSEF for approval.
      6. The CTSEF IRB will review all Human Subject projects and will schedule an interview date.
      7. If the deficiency form states that changes need to be addressed, the corrections must be made on the students’ original paperwork and then re-uploaded to the students profile online, return the project to review status, by the next deadline time. This must be before the IRB interview (if one is requested).
      8. If the project corrections, listed on your deficiency form, are not made there will be no other review until you have completed the corrections listed.
      9. If an IRB interview is requested, the student /teacher/sponsor must email or call the CTSEF office to set an appointment time. The student need to make sure to attend their scheduled interview time and bring a clean corrected copy of the research plan and all forms.
    2. Experiments that involve vertebrate animals, potentially hazardous biological agents, controlled substances, nonexempt recombinant DNA, certain tissue studies, and all studies involving more than a minimal risk to the researcher, require approval from a Scientific Review Committee (SRC) before experimentation begins and must be submitted using the online process (www.ctsef.org) [read Research Plan instruction sheet].
    3. All other projects require a review by the CTSEF Project Review Team and must be submitted online.
  7. All studies involving nonhuman vertebrate animals, potentially hazardous biological agents, controlled substances, nonexempt recombinant DNA, certain tissue studies, and all studies involving more than a minimal risk in human subjects must have a Designated Supervisor or Qualified Scientist, depending on risk assessment.
  8. Projects that are continuations of previous years' work and that require IRB/SRC approval must be re-approved prior to experimentation for the current year. Any continuing project must document new or more advanced research.
  9. Human and Vertebrate Animal Tissue Form (6B), if applicable, must be submitted for SRC review and approval before student begins experimentation.
  10. The use of alcohol, acid rain, insecticides, herbicides, and heavy metals in toxicity or behavioral studies on live vertebrates is prohibited.
  11. Studies involving any pathogenic or potentially pathogenic agents are prohibited in a home environment, but specimens may be collected at home.
  12. Non-invasive (behavioral) studies involving pets and livestock may be done at home.
  13. No vertebrate animal deaths due to the experimental procedures are permitted in any group or subgroup. Such a project will fail to qualify for competition.
  14. Any proposed changes in the Research Plan by the student after initial IRB/SRC approval must have subsequent IRB/SRC approval before experimentation begins/resumes.
  15. If work was conducted in an institutional or industrial setting any time during the current project year, Regulated Research Institutional/Industrial Setting Form (1C) must be completed.
  16. Use of models alone or demonstrations is not creative and is not allowed.
  17. Collections should only be used to support an investigation or help to answer a question. Fossils will be permitted on display.
  18. Display or poster exhibits showing only library research are not acceptable. Projects must present the results of experimental investigation or field studies.
  19. NO product testing is allowed at the Regional Fair level. Although acceptable at the local level, product testing projects may not advance to the CTSEF.
  20. Each student may enter only one project that covers research done over a maximum continuous 12 month period between January of previous fair year and current year fair.
  21. All exhibits must adhere to CTSEF/ISEF safety and size requirements.
  22. It is important that students retain all original signed forms. The only exception is the waiver that is sent with your first review and it must be the original signed form.
  23. It is the student's responsibility to check with the CTSEF for any additional restrictions or requirements.