Thank you for your interest in participating in the NH Science and Engineering Expo. Below are highlights of rules and guidelines for participating in the Expo. Please be sure to refer to the ISEF Rules and Guidelines for more detail. Please note: To contact the NHSEE SRC with questions or to submit paperwork, please use the email address NHSEESRC@gmail.com.

“The Affiliated Fair Scientific Review Committee (SRC) is a group of qualified individuals that is responsible for evaluation of student research, certifications, research plans and exhibits for compliance with the rules, applicable laws and regulations at each level of science fair competition.”

Students and their mentors/teachers/adult sponsor must read through the ISEF rules and guidelines in order to understand the requirements for participating in ISEF affiliated fairs for high school students. In fact, when filling out Form 1 (required by all projects), the first checkbox is to verify that the ISEF Rules and Guidelines have been read. On pages 3-7 of the ISEF guidelines you will find the eligibility and requirements for participation in ISEF and affiliated fairs along with the documentation requirements and descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of students and adults. Of note-General requirement 8. states that “All projects must adhere to the requirements of the affiliated fair(s) in which it competes to qualify for participation in ISEF. Affiliated fairs may have additional restrictions or requirements. Knowledge of these requirements is the responsibility of the student and Adult Sponsor.

The information in this document is to highlight some of the common issues seen with project evaluation, as well as to highlight the the rules associated with project deadlines and requirements that is specific for NHSEE.

  1. Fill out all required forms legibly. There are fillable forms available, but if writing, please use neat writing.
  2. One issue that comes up regularly is the use of school names, and product names/logos in the research and the poster.
    • Do NOT include your school name on the poster or anywhere visible on your lab notebook. We understand that the forms have your school name on them, so do not show judges your forms, those are for SRC review only. Judges may look at lab notebooks and papers written by the student(s) for their project, but not the forms submitted for final review. You may not show school logos or have teacher/grant/other acknowledgments on the poster or lab notebook
    • You may not show brand names/company logos in any text or images on your poster. Example: If you are using 3 different cleaners to test for effectiveness, you should label the cleaners with generic labels, such as Cleaner A, Cleaner B, and Cleaner C (you may document in you lab notebook which cleaner is which by their product name) Any photos or graphing should use the same naming.
    • You may not wear or display school branded clothing. You may not wear lab coats. You may not wear clothing that has inappropriate logos or sayings.
  3. If your project uses any vertebrate animals, microorganisms or other Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents (PHBAs), you MUST get pre-approval from the NHSEE SRC prior to start of experimentation. Start of experimentation refers to data collection. You are allowed to research information on your project, while developing a research plan. Be sure to read the rules specific to your project. There are few exempt situations. If you or your adults sponsor believe your project is exempt, you must confirm with the SRC prior to experimentation, otherwise you risk the chance that you may be disqualified. You may submit your pre-approval forms at anytime, up until the pre-approval deadline which is usually in early December (refer to website deadlines).
    • Most high schools are not BSL-2 certified, and therefore you are not allowed to conduct research with any BSL-2 organisms. If you are not sure whether or not your project involves BSL-2 organisms or if your school/research facility is certified, please contact the SRC.
    • Any project where unknown microorganisms are involved is considered a BSL-2 level. However “research with unknown microorganisms can be treated as a BSL-1 study under the following conditions:
      i. Organism is cultured in a plastic petri dish (or other standard sterile non-breakable container) and sealed.
      ii. Experiment involves only procedures in which the petri dish remains sealed throughout the experiment (e.g., counting presence of organisms or colonies).
      iii. The sealed petri dish is disposed of via autoclaving or disinfection under the supervision of the Designated Supervisor.”

    So, if you collect and culture an unknown sample from the environment (e.g. soil, desks, keyboards, skin….) then you must fill out Form 6A and submit for pre-approval. In the risk assessment you should state “This project is culturing unknown microbes, which is considered BSL-2, however, because it was cultured in plastic petri dish, sealed, and remained sealed for the duration of the experiment before it was properly disposed of via autoclaving, it can be considered BSL-1” You should tailor your statement to match what was done in your project, but the goal is to show that you understand that it must be sealed because unknown organisms are higher risk.

    If you are uncertain as to whether or not your project requires pre-approval, please be sure to contact the SRC (NHSEESRC@gmail.com)

    For Project Pre-Approval, you must submit the following to the NHSEE SRC prior to the pre-approval deadline:

    For projects involving vertebrate animals the following forms are required:

    • Checklist for Adult Sponsor (1), Student Checklist (1A), Research Plan/Project Summary, and Approval Form (1B)
    • Vertebrate Animal Form (5A)
    • Qualified Scientist Form (2), when applicable

    For projects involving PHBAs the following forms are required:

    • Checklist for Adult Sponsor (1), Student Checklist (1A), Research Plan/Project Summary, and Approval Form (1B)
    • Regulated Research Institution Form (1C) – when applicable
    • Qualified Scientist (2), when applicable
    • Risk Assessment (3), when applicable
    • PHBA Risk Assessment Form (6A), when applicable
    • Human and Vertebrate Animal Tissue Form (6B) – for all studies involving tissues and body fluids.
    • If you are unsure about the “when applicable” and if it applies to your project, please contact NHSEE SRC for clarification.

  4. If your project uses human participants, you must have your school IRB evaluate and sign off on Form 4 prior to experimentation. If your school does not have an IRB, have your teacher/adult sponsor contact the NHSEE SRC to get information on how the teacher/adult sponsor can set up an IRB at your school. Refer to pages 8-10 for the rules for human participants. Even if you are “just doing a survey”, you MUST get IRB pre-approval by your school’s IRB. Even if your school IRB approves a project, the SRC may determine during final review that your project is not eligible due to safety/risk concerns.
  5. If your project does not require pre-approval, then feel free to contact the NHSEE SRC with any questions, but your required forms and paperwork will be due by the February deadline for project submission.

To ensure that all NHSEE projects adhere to the ISEF rules in order to be eligible for ISEF competition, the NHSEE SRC reviews ALL project paperwork for eligibility determination. All projects must submit their required paperwork by the February deadline in order to ensure that the SRC has time to review all submitted paperwork for the Expo.

For Final Approval for Participation in the Expo, all projects MUST submit all the following paperwork prior to the February deadline

If any signatures are done electronically, digital signatures must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication.

All Projects: Every project MUST submit the following for Final Project Approval

Form 1– (only 1 Form 1 per team/project) Must be completed by Adult Sponsor in collaboration with the student researcher(s), and must have all the relevant boxes checked. Sponsor’s name and contact information must be legible. Date of review for the project should be prior to experimentation. If dated after project completion, please provide a signed (by the adult sponsor) statement as to why the date of review is after the start of experimentation.

Form 1A– (only 1 Form 1A per team/project) Please include all information and be sure the form is legible. For #7, please use the dates that data collection started and ended, not the date you started researching information to write the research plan. For the 2020 Expo, you MUST submit all of your paperwork by February 14th, 2020. However, you may collect data until 03/01/20, and submit your abstract by March 6th, 2020. All other forms must be in by February the 14th deadline. So for Form 1A- if you plan to continue collecting data past the 2/14/20 paperwork deadline, please leave the end date blank and the SRC can review your lab notebook to finalize the data collection date for the form.

Form 1B– Each student team member MUST have Form 1B. (i.e. if 3 students on a project, then there must be 3 Form 1Bs, one for each student). Student and Parent/Guardian Name must be legible. If using a digital signature, it must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication. Dates for both signatures must be prior to the start of experimentation. If dated after start of experimentation, the Parent/Guardian must include a signed statement as to the reason for the form being dated after experimentation.

For projects that have school IRB pre-approval, the IRB Chair should sign and date each of the team member’s Form 1B.

Research Plan– (only 1 Research Plan per team/project) Research plans should have been written prior to start of experimentation and must include details specified in the research plan instructions from the ISEF rules. Procedure must be clear and provide details as to what was done in order to evaluate by SRC. If your project includes subject specific guidelines, be sure to include those details. However, even if you include safety details in your research plan, you must also include those details on the required forms.

Talent Release Form– Each student team member MUST have their own signed form. This form is specific to the NHSEE and students will not be allowed to compete at the Expo without one signed. If any signatures are done electronically, digital signatures must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication.

Abstract– Each project/team must submit an abstract. This year, we will allow project teams to continue with data collection until March 1st and must submit their abstract no later than March 6th, 2020. Even though the abstract can be submitted by 3/6/20, the rest of the required paperwork MUST be received by the NHSEE SRC no later than 02/14/20. Please submit abstract using this FORM.

Project Specific Required Paperwork: Depending on your project, you may need to submit one or more of the following in addition to the paperwork required by all projects

Form 1C– ONLY FOR RESEARCH DONE AT A REGULATED RESEARCH/INDUSTRIAL SETTING (only one Form 1C per team/project) Must be filled out by supervising adult AFTER experimentation. However, supervising adult should review the form prior to start of experimentation to ensure that all safety (IRB/IACUC/IBC) approvals have been obtained. If any signatures are done electronically, digital signatures must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication. High schools are not regulated research institutions.

Form 2-(only one Form 2 per team/project) Qualified Scientist Form May be required for research involving human participants, vertebrate animals, potentially hazardous biological agents, and hazardous substances and devices. Must be completed and signed before the start of student experimentation. Not all projects require a form 2, if you are unsure, please contact NHSEE SRC.

Form 3– (only one Form 3 per team/project)Risk Assessment Form must be completed before experimentation. If any signatures are done electronically, digital signatures must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication.

Form 4– (only one Form 4 per team/project)Human Participants Form Required for all research involving human participants not at a Regulated Research Institution. If at a Regulated Research Institution, use institutional approval forms for documentation of prior review and approval. (IRB approval required before recruitment or data collection.) Be sure to check the box for question 5 on Form 1A.

Only Blank Human Consent forms should be submitted. Please do not send filled out/signed consent forms. Keep those with your project paperwork, but do not send to NHSEE SRC with final approval paperwork. If the SRC has questions about the signed forms, have them available for SRC review at the Expo.

Top of Form 4 must be filled out by Student Researcher(s) and Adult Sponsor/Designated Supervisor/Qualified Scientist: questions 1-4 must be reviewd and checked off as determined. IRB area must be completely filled out with appropriate boxes checked. You may NOT photocopy blank forms signed by an IRB to fill out, each project must be reviewed individually and signed off by school IRB.

IRB SIGNATURES(All 3 signatures required) None of these individuals may be the adult sponsor, designated supervisor, qualified scientist or related to (e.g., mother, father of) the student (conflict of interest). If any signatures are done electronically, digital signatures must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication.

The NHSEE SRC reviews all paperwork for final determination of eligibility. Even if a project was approved by a school’s IRB, the NHSEE SRC may determine that it is not eligible.

Form 5A– (only one Form 5A per team/project) Vertebrate Animal Form Required for all research involving vertebrate animals that is conducted in a school/home/field research site. (SRC approval required before experimentation.) Be sure to check the box for question 5 on Form 1A. If any signatures are done electronically, digital signatures must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication.

Form 5B– (only one Form 5B per team/project)Vertebrate Animal Form Required for all research involving vertebrate animals that is conducted at a Regulated Research Institution. (IACUC approval required before experimentation. Form must be completed and signed by the Qualified Scientist/Principal Investigator AFTER experimentation.) Be sure to check the box for question 5 on Form 1A. If any signatures are done electronically, digital signatures must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication.

Form 6A– (only one Form 6A per team/project) Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents Risk Assessment Form Required for research involving microorganisms, rDNA, fresh/frozen tissue (including primary cell lines, human and other primate established cell lines and tissue cultures), blood, blood products and body fluids. SRC/IACUC/IBC approval required BEFORE experimentation. Be sure to check the box for question 5 on Form 1A. If any signatures are done electronically, digital signatures must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication.

Form 6B– (only one Form 6B per team/project) Human and Vertebrate Animal Tissue Form Required for research involving fresh/frozen tissue (including primary cell lines, human and other primate established cell lines and tissue cultures), blood, blood products and body fluids. If the research involves living organisms please ensure that the proper human or animal forms are completed. All projects using any tissue listed above must also complete Form 6A. Be sure to check the box for question 5 on Form 1A. If any signatures are done electronically, digital signatures must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication.

Form 7– (only one Form 7 per team/project)Continuation/Research Progression Projects Form Required for projects that are a continuation/progression in the same field of study as a previous project. This form must be accompanied by the previous year’s abstract and Research Plan/Project Summary. Be sure to check the box for question 6 on Form 1A. If any signatures are done electronically, digital signatures must have a verification system via login and have a time and date stamp to indicate this authentication.

As mentioned previously, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the NHSEE SRC (nhseesrc@gmail.com). Please be sure to submit all forms to nhseesrc@gmail.com email address. If you prefer to submit forms by mail, please send to the PO box listed on the site and be sure that the envelope is postmarked no later than 11:59pm of the due date. Abstracts must be submitted electronically.

After final paperwork has been reviewed by the SRC, you will receive an email either requesting more information or providing confirmation of your eligibility. For Poster Presentation guidelines, please refer to the Do’s and Don’ts guidelines for poster presentation at the Expo.