Quick Start Guide to MSEF

So you are planning on doing a science or engineering fair project. Excellent.

These are the basic steps for doing a project for our fair. Some are only required in the Junior and Senior division (*). Not all steps need to be done in the order listed.

  1. Confirm eligibility for this event
    • Attending school in Mercer County, NJ. Includes home school students
    • You are participating as an individual
    • Grades 6 to 8 - sign up for Junior Division
    • Grades 9 to 12 - sign up for the Senior Division
  2. Decide on a topic, research it and develop a hypothesis/purpose
  3. Start online application
  4. Create a detailed research plan
  5. Project precertification
    • This is optional and for projects that involve people, animals, microorganisms and projects with safety considerations
    • Must be done BEFORE experimentation
    • Our safety review committee will review your research plan and ISEF forms that have been uploaded to your online application to determine if everything is in order. You will be notified if the project is acceptable or if any changes are needed.
    • Precertification will prevent possible disqualification of a project that did not follow the rules or include appropriate forms and adult supervision
  6. ISEF forms
    • Forms 1, 1a and 1b are needed for all projects
    • Use the ISEF Rules Wizard to determine if additional forms are required. Precertification is recommended if you do
    • Complete all forms. Some require signatures AFTER experimentation is complete but most fields are filled our BEFORE experimentation start
  7. Complete the project
    • Build project or do experiments depending on the project
    • Record results
    • Analyze results
  8. Write your quad chart (online competition) or abstract (in-person competition)
  9. Create your presentation materials
  10. Upload materials to your online application including:
    • scanned or photographed versions of your ISEF forms
    • scanned or photographed version of the MSEF release form (found in online application)
    • your presentation materials
  11. Finalize online application
    • Requires all items to be uploaded and all fields filled in
    • No changes can be made after the project is finalized
  12. Record a video presentation for the judges (optional, no longer than 5 minutes)
  13. Project is reviewed by our safety review committee (SRC) to make sure all rules have been followed
  14. Judging your project
    • Online event (current)
      • each student will have a scheduled Zoom call to talk with the judges
    • In-person event (not available at this time. May be used for future fairs)
      • bring project board to fair
      • attend judging session
  15. Attend award ceremony

The rest of this section goes into more detail about these steps