STEM Fair FAQ
Why should I participate in SVSEF?
A STEM project is one of the most authentic “real world” work you can do as a middle or high school student. In a work environment, you’ll be given projects that require you to create solutions, meet deadlines, and explain your project. Many of SVSEF’s participants from previous years' fairs reported that discussing their projects with the judges was their favorite part of the process. Being a SVSEF participant also means you’ll get to see the work done by both your friends and students from other schools. Moreover, since less than 6% of K-12 students participate in a science fair, your inclusion makes it a “stand out” item on your college applications.
Click here to hear how Dr. Daly's high school science fair project not only changed his life but is now paving the way for planetary defense.
Will there be awards at SVSEF?
All students will receive a participation ribbon and SVSEF T-shirt, as well as a light dinner during the judges' deliberations.
There will also be both category and sponsored awards. Sponsored awards include trophies and possibly cash for the students.
For the former awards, the top three student projects for each grade level (5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th) in the categories of biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics/engineering/math will receive cash awards and trophies. For the 2023 SVSEF, the first place cash award will be $100, second will be $50, and third will be $25 per student. Reminder: you may work individually or in teams of two for your SVSEF project.
The sponsored student awards will be the People's Choice and David Fritts Most Innovative Solution awards.
There will also be Outstanding Teacher and Outstanding School awards.
The 2023 Outstanding Teacher Award will consist of a trophy and the Dr. Neil deGrasse autographed book "Starry Messenger."
The 2023 Outstanding School Award will consist of a trophy and a telescope.
What's the process for entering SVSEF?
SEE FAIR GUIDELINES FOR THE DETAILS, BUT THE FOLLOWING IS AN OVERVIEW:
(A) ALL PROJECT IDEAS NEED TO BE APPROVED BEFORE WORK BEGINS.
(B) Check the UNACCEPTABLE PROJECTS LIST FIRST, then do a background search to get an idea and pointers for designing your project. See resources here. Also look at the project examples on our Project Types page here.
(C) VIEW 2023 SVSEF CLINIC:Click here to view the presentation on the difference between and how to do science and engineering projects.
(D) After you have decided on a project, go to the SVSEF ENTRY FORM on the home page to complete an application. SVSEF’s STEM Science Review Committee (SRC) reviews each application for safety, ethics, and grade-level appropriateness.
(E) If everything in your application is complete, you’ll receive an email that says “Approved.” If your project is incomplete (if you are also registering for the county fair, there may be some additional ISEF forms to be completed), or has grade level, safety, or ethics issues, an email will be sent to you saying either "Conditionally approved"or “Needs additional work,” along with suggestions to make your project compliant.
(F) Once your application is approved/conditionally approved, then you can begin work on your project.
(G) If you need help with your project at any stage, contact us for assistance.
(H) You’ll need a bound notebook AND a science and engineering fair trifold poster board. SVSEI will provide both - the notebook will be dropped off at your school after you register your project. The Trifolds will be available for pickup at the January work days. (You do not need to register for pickup - just email us beforehand so we have enough on hand.) The notebook is where you record ALL of your data, designs, and project ideas. Take pictures, make sketches, graph your data, and analyze your results with the statistics you learned by attending the clinic. Then, write them up for your display board (see Project Display Rules and Helpful hints) and summarize them for your abstract.
Do I have to work alone?
No, you may either work alone or with ONE partner. If you do a team project, be sure you divide the work equally between the two of you.
What are the key deadlines for SVSEF?
While we will be accepting project registrations starting November 4, 2022, the Entry Application deadline is midnight on March 15, 2023. (Note: SRC approval in the process is OK.)
Your completed project board drop-off will be at Live Oak High School Gym, 1505 E. Main Monterey Road, Morgan Hill, between 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM on May 3, 2023.
If you miss these deadlines, you can’t participate in SVSEF!
I'm interested in robotics. What if I'd rather do an engineering project?
SVSEF has categories for experiments and investigations. Engineering, math, and computer science projects are examples of work that go into the Engineering category. If you have a goal rather than a hypothesis, then your project probably belongs in the investigation category. See the Science & Engineering Practices Diagram and the Engineering Clinic Presentation links for help.
What is the Synopsys Championship?
It’s the Santa Clara County Science and Engineering Fair for all 6th-12th grade students; it’s held in March at the Santa Jose McEnery Convention Center. Many students within the county also choose to compete in this fair. The top winners of the Synopsys Championship go on to compete at ISEF and/or CSSEF.
What if I want to participate in the Synopsys Championship too?
As a “feeder” fair to the Synopsys Championship, SVSEF wants you to! SVSEI will even provide a voucher so you don't have to pay the Synopsys Championship's registration fee.
There’s the time between the two fairs to take what you’ve learned during SVSEF judging to make improvements in your project for the county competition. But remember, there are separate applications and deadlines for the Synopsys Championship. See www.science-fair.org for this information.