Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How do I register for the fair?

A: All students must register online. After registering online, students will receive a confirmation within 3 working days. If your project has not been confirmed within a week, please contact us.

Projects involving human participants, vertebrate animals, potentially hazardous biological agents (ANY microorganisms or viruses), or hazardous chemicals, activities or devices need to be registered online by January 17, 2020.   You will need approval from the EWRSEF Scientific Review Committee (SRC) or Internal Review Board (IRB) before you begin your data collection, so register as soon as you have your research plan. Use the ISEF form wizard to determine if your project need SRC approval and submit all of the appropriate forms to the fair director

Online registration for all other projects needs to be completed by January 17, 2020.

Q: Why do I have to register online?

A: The online registration lets us know that you are coming and helps us to plan for space, judging assignments, certificates, and more.  All students must register online.


Q:What forms do I need to submit?

A: All students are required to submit the four Intel ISEF forms and the WSU Release form soon to be listed on the student page. Different types of projects require different types of forms. Additional forms are required for projects involving human subjects, vertebrate animals, controlled substances and/or potentially hazardous biological agents. You can use the ISEF Rules Wizard or email us at if you are unsure which forms you need.

Q: Do I turn in the originals of my ISEF forms?

A: NO! You will submit your forms online as you complete your science fair registration. You can download the forms from the registration website and print them to bring to the EWRSEF.


Q:Who is eligible to participate?

A: All 6-12th grade students attending public, private, charter, parochial, or home schools in Spokane, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry, Lincoln, and Whitman Counties in Washington State are eligible to participate. If you attend a school outside of this region, please see the Washington State Science FairsIdaho Science and Engineering Fair, or Montana Science Fair sites to find the fair you should attend. In order to participate at the state level, students must present at a regional fair.

Unfortunately, we do not accept grade 1-5 submissions at this time. Students from Spokane, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry, Lincoln, and Whitman Counties who are ineligible to compete at EWRSEF may present directly at WSSEF.


Q: Can parents, teachers, and other adults help with a project?

A: Yes!  One of the great things about a science fair is that there is room for parent involvement and outside help. By sharing science experiences, parents, teachers, and other mentors demonstrate that learning is an important and enjoyable process. The key is that you are the lead on the project. Adults can offer advice, review forms, help gather materials, assist in constructing the backboard, and proofread grammar.  However, the research and overall project should reflect the effort of the student(s).  All adults, other than your parent or teacher, need to follow these rules.  Email correspondence must go through the email of the parent/guardian.  All adults you work with in person will need to send proof of a recent background check.  Check with your school district to find out how adults can register as a volunteer.  Use the following links to register with these school districts:
Spokane Public Schools
Central Valley School District
East Valley School District

Q: Can I work with a researcher at a University or a Research Institution?

A: Yes!  Working with a professional can open your eyes to current research, laboratory equipment, and valuable advice.  As a student, you will not be penalized if you choose to work on a project under the supervision of a researcher.  However, we encourage students to do the majority of the work and have a strong understanding of the research they are working on.

Q: I don’t know any professional scientists or engineers.  Can I still do well at the EWRSEF if I work on a project by myself?

A: Yes! We understand that it can be difficult to find a mentor and we do not penalize students who are working on their own.  Some of the best research we have seen at the fair comes from students who have researched simple problems in new and creative ways! However, you will need to have at least an Adult Sponsor (could be a teacher or a parent/guardian) to go over your project paperwork. Depending on your experimental design, you may be required to have a Designated Supervisor or Qualified Scientist.


Q: What is the Scientific Review Committee/Institutional Review Board (SRC/IRB)?

A: The EWRSEF Scientific Review Committee and Institutional Review Board (SRC/IRB) is a group of adults knowledgeable about the federal and state regulations concerning experimentation.  The committee is responsible for reviewing all student projects to make sure that they are being conducted in a safe and ethical manner.  Student projects involving human subjects, vertebrate animals, potentially hazardous biological agents, hazardous materials, and DEA-controlled substances MUST receive SRC/IRB approval before beginning their data collection.

Q: Does my project need to be approved by the SRC/IRB?

A: It depends on your choice of project. If your project uses any of the following, you will need special forms and will need to submit your project for consideration by the Scientific Review Committee: lab-grade chemicals, vertebrate animals, human participants (survey studies included), recombinant DNA, microorganisms, blood products, animal or human tissues, or any other activities that have risk “above typical household/school use.”

Use the Intel Rules Wizard to see what forms need to be submitted. This should be done BEFORE you begin data collection. The last date to get us your registration and get the SRC to review your project is January 10, 2018. If you have any questions about this requirement, please contact us.

Q: How long will it take to get SRC/IRB approval for my project?

A: Please allow two to three weeks for the SRC/IRB to review your project.

Q: Is it OK to get approval after I have collected my data?

A: If you are working with human subjects, vertebrate animals, controlled substances and/or potentially hazardous biological agents, you MUST have your project approved BEFORE you begin your experiment.  The purpose of the SRC/IRB is to make sure that you are doing your science fair project safely and ethically, therefore, the committee must approve your project before you start collecting data. If you have already started your experiment and did not receive prior approval, please contact us and let us know about your situation.

Project Display

Q: Can my parents or teacher set up my project for me at the fair?

A: Yes. Just be certain that all materials you plan to display are present in order to be approved by a safety and display judge.

Q: What can I include on my project board for the fair?

A: The Visual Display requirements are listed here as well as some additional tips and advice. Also, note that no photos of others are allowed, unless a signed release form has been submitted.

Q: How should my project be displayed on the project board?

A: Your display will be a visual aid that will briefly state all the important aspects of your project: problem, hypothesis, experiment description, results/analysis, conclusions and applications.

Q: What needs to be available besides my project board during the Science Fair?

A: Your notebook(s) (journal) and the official abstract should be included. Also, have all of the originals of all forms required for your project.

Event Information

Q: When do I set up my project?

A: Projects must be set up and ready for judging by 9:00 a.m.  Please refer to the fair schedule for details.

Q: Will lunch be provided?

A: Unfortunately, we are not able to provide participants with lunch.  Two locations of the Fresh Plate will be open and Food Trucks will parked on campus for you to buy your lunch.

Q: Will parking be available?

A: Yes. Free parking will be available on the WSU Spokane Campus.  See the fair schedule to see the campus map.

Q: What should I wear to the fair?

A: We recommend that you dress professionally but comfortably.  You’ll be on your feet for most of the day, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Q: What should I do when my poster is not being judged?

A: The judging process can be lengthy with a lot of “down” time. You may want to bring homework or a book to read while you are waiting to talk to the judges during your session.  There will be presentations and movies in the auditoriums plus campus tours for you during other sessions.  Be sure that whatever you bring is not a distraction to yourself or others.

Q: Will my valuables be secure at the fair?

A: We recommend that you only display computer or other valuable items while you are with your project.  The EWRSEF and WSU are not responsible for lost or stolen items.

Q: Is there a time for the public to view the projects?

A: The exhibits will be open to the public. Please refer to the fair schedule for details.


Q: How will I be judged?

A: The EWRSEF judges evaluate projects based on the WSSEF judging criteria.  Judges are looking for creative ability, scientific thought, thoroughness, skill, and clarity.  Team projects will also be judged on how well the students worked together.

The EWRSEF Special Awards judges evaluate projects using special judging criteria given to them by the sponsoring organization.  You can learn more about special award criteria on our Awards page.

Q: Do I have to stay for the entire judging period?

A: Yes! There will be one judging session during which you will need to be present the entire time. This will be when category judges and special award judges will come and visit you. You do not need to be present at the other judging session–we hope that you use this time attend presentations in the auditoriums, go on campus tours, and check out the outreach tables.

Q: What if I can’t come to EWRSEF during the judging time?

A: The judging interview is the most important component of the judging process. If you cannot come at all, we recommend that you do not compete at EWRSEF.

Those students in Eastern Washington counties who want to compete at the state level need to participate at EWRSEF. It is up to the fair director to give you permission to compete at the Washington State Fair if you do not participate in the EWRSEF–she only does so in very special circumstances. Those who compete at other competitions or have sports-related obligations will not be granted a waiver to compete at WSSEF.

Q: Do all members of my team have to be present during judging?

A: Yes. It would otherwise be difficult for the judges to understand the contributions of each team member. Team projects without all members present will receive a significant team deduction on their final score.

Q: How long does the judging last and when can I leave?

A: Typically there are two judging sessions, each one hour 15 minutes long with a 15 minute break between them. Students will stay at their project during their assigned session. Students should stay at their project during the public viewing session. Students selected to be considered for winners will be notified at the beginning of the public viewing period. All other students are required to stay at their projects during public viewing.

More questions?

If you have additional questions about the EWRSEF, forms, procedures, individual projects or anything else we’ve missed, we would like to hear from you!  Contact us and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.