Review ALL the steps before you start. More information is provided for some steps by clicking on the links.
- Choose your topic. See the resources page for some ideas – Science Buddies has a topic wizard.
NOTE: Elementary students may not culture microorganisms and NO students at any age may culture microorganisms at home.
- Begin a science journal that includes everything you do for your research! Record dates for each entry. This will be included in your presentation of your research, so write neatly!
- Read about your topic to develop some background knowledge. Write down your sources for your bibliography.
- Develop a research question or engineering problem.
- Think about your experimental design or engineering design process. Do NOT do or buy anything yet!!!
- Be sure your project will follow all ISEF Rules!
All ISEF rules must be followed. The rules change from year to year so it is essential to review the rules carefully with your adult sponsor. Use the ISEF rules wizard carefully to be sure you read and understand all the warnings, rules, and forms that apply to your project.
Many projects recommended in books and on the web do not meet ISEF standards and will not be accepted at the NC Science and Engineering Fair.
- Write a research plan.The plan should include the following:
- Question or problem,
- Goals/expected outcomes/hypotheses,
- Methods or procedures,
- Types of data to be collected and how it will be analyzed,
- Bibliography. Students are required to have five (5) major references for the bibliography.
- Fill out your entry forms. These should be signed and dated BEFORE you begin experimenting. ALL students in North Carolina will be required to use the ISEF forms. We will no longer use a different form for elementary and middle school students.
- Get your plan approved by your adult sponsor and your parents. Your plan must be approved and your forms signed BEFORE you begin to do actual experimentation.