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When is the SARSEF Fair this year?

SARSEF will be from March 11th through March 14th, 2020 with project set up on March 11th from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm and ending with final project pick up at 3:00 pm on Saturday, March 14th.  Projects must be registered by February 26, 2020.

Where is the SARSEF Fair held?

SARSEF is held at the Tucson Convention Center at 260 S. Church Ave. Tucson AZ 85701

How do students get to compete at the SARSEF Fair?

Approximately 95,000 students from Southern Arizona compete in school fairs each year. Only the top winners from the school fairs are allowed to go on to compete at SARSEF. Most students that are enrolled in a school (public, private or charter) will first participate in a school science fair.

How many students can go on to compete at SARSEF from each school?

Entries are limited at the Kindergarten through Middle School levels. The number of entries for each school are based on school size, grade levels served and focus area. High Schools have an unlimited number of entries as long as they are of quality. Please contact the SARSEF Director for your school’s allotted number of entries.

Are any additional projects ever allowed?

Due to the increase in number of participating schools SARSEF has had to strictly limit the number of projects allowed. Students must qualify at the their school fair (if the school has one) to enter SARSEF. If a school does not have a fair, see the question farther below.


How do schools select projects for the SARSEF Fair?

Schools are encouraged to use the Judging Criteria listed on the SARSEF website, however schools may modify some elements.

Can ALL grade levels compete at the SARSEF Fair?

Yes! We are one of the very few fairs in the country to offer this opportunity to students in Pre-K through grade twelve. We believe that early exposure to scientific thinking and the design process helps create great problem solvers for our future!

Do students have to work alone?

Students in ALL grades may choose to work as a “Team”, consisting of two to three students. Students in Grades Pre-K-5 may participate in a “Group/Class” project where the group (4 or more students) works together to solve a problem and all students participate in some way throughout the process.

What if my school does not have a Science Fair?

We can help:

  1. First, contact the school to see if there is a Fair and request permission to enter. Some schools limit their Fairs to certain grade levels, however we encourage all schools to allow all grade levels to enter and be considered. If a school does not have a Fair, we hope that you will express your desire to have a school fair in future years to the administration and teachers, and offer to help.
  2. Next, ask the school to start a simple sign-up sheet for students interested in doing a project for SARSEF. Put your name at the top of the list. Ask the office to assign a staff member to assist you if possible, and ask them to announce that interested students may sign up in the office.
  3. Set a reasonable date for all projects to be completed and brought to a central school location. On that date, if there are fewer projects completed than your School’s allotment, all may go on to SARSEF.
  4. If there are more projects than the school’s allotment (this is not usually the case, however), ask the Principal to select the projects or designate a teacher to select the top projects that will go on.
  5. If the school is not able to assist with the registration process, the person whose name is first on the list should be in charge of registering ALL projects online and collecting the $10 fee per project.

Can Home School students compete at the SARSEF Fair?

Yes. Many students who are home schooled do very well at SARSEF. Most belong to a Home School Association, which may hold their own fair. However, if this is not the case, please contact the SARSEF director for more information about how to enter your home-schooled student.

My school WANTS to start a Science Fair but we have no idea where to begin!

Representatives from SARSEF provide FREE school visits! Have your administrator fill out the request form or contact the SARSEF director to arrange for individual classroom presentations, school assemblies, faculty meeting informational sessions and Parent Meetings. We can show you how to easily get started!

What does it mean to need “SRC approval”?

If you are doing a project that involves animals or humans, or will be testing a biological agent (for example, bacteria), you will need to have your Scientific Review Committee (SRC) review your research plan BEFORE you start your project. See the website for the forms and for more detail.

Are there other resources if we need help?

We are here for you!

  1. First, check out this website for answers to many more questions and where to go for help.
  2. Next, go to www.sciencebuddies.org for additional help and ideas.
  3. Finally, write to director@sarsef.org if you still need assistance.

Does it cost a lot to enter the SARSEF Fair?

The ONLY fee involved is a $10 registration fee. Since it is considered an honor to be selected, many schools’ Extra-Curricular Funds or Parent Organizations may be willing to pay this for you!

Do I have to use the SARSEF SRC?

If you are entering a Pre-K-8 project, your school can have its own SRC form and review all projects locally. The school may send it to the SARSEF SRC if there is a question. If you have a High School project, then you need to strictly follow all steps and forms for permission required by SARSEF and at the International level.

What happens when a project gets to the SARSEF Fair?

By February 26th, the project will need to be registered on-line.

  • On Wednesday March 11th, of the Fair Week, students (or a parent/teacher) bring the project and its Express Check-in form to the Tucson Convention Center, between 10:00 am and 8:00 pm to set it up. Also bring any notebooks, SRC forms, and log books you might have. Put your name and school’s name on the back of your board (using small writing, please).
  • On Thursday of Fair Week, March 12th, judging of the projects occurs. Students in Gr. 6-8 are encouraged to attend from 10:00 to 11:30, and High School students are required to participate in judging day interviews from 12:30 to 3:00. Gr. K- 5 students are not interviewed.
  • Winners are announced on the website by 10:00 am on Friday, March 13th. We do not tell anyone ahead of time exactly what they won, just that they should come to the Awards Ceremony.
  • On Friday, March 13th, there is a public viewing day and students are encouraged to show off their project to family and friends at Future Innovators Night from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. Project pickup begins 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
  • Awards Ceremonies are held at the TCC on Saturday March 14. 11:00am For Elementary Level and 4:30pm For Middle School and High School Projects must be picked up on this day for all students by 7:30 pm.

Where do these prizes come from?

Our major donors contribute to the cash awards and scholarships. Their generosity allows SARSEF to recognize the efforts of Southern Arizona’s student researchers. Local businesses, organizations, and judges representing their area of interest or profession donate additional prizes. Visit the website to see who donates and sponsors awards.

How many prizes are awarded each year?

Last year 725 prizes were awarded including 14 scholarships and 12 trips. Generally, 20% of the projects will receive one of the coveted Grand Awards for First, Second and Third Place, which are selected solely by the SARSEF Judges.


How many projects are there at the SARSEF Fair?

Last year there were 2,145 projects at SARSEF.

What is SARSEF?

The Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair (SARSEF) is an affiliate of the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) which is managed by Science for Society and the Public (SSP). SARSEF is held annually at the Tucson Convention Center (TCC) in the second week of March. About 1800 projects will be displayed, judged, and open for public view. Approximately 20% of the projects will receive awards ranging from certificates of excellence, cash, trophies, to scholarships. Last year, six High School projects (either individual or team), and three 8th grade observers are selected to attend the Intel International Science-Engineer Fair. We are very proud of our Southern Arizona students and honored that SARSEF has been able to assist in the advancement of their interest in science and hopefully their careers!

What is the Arizona STEM Adventure -is that the same as the MSTFF or Funfest?

The Arizona STEM Adventure takes the place of the previously well-known FunFest.  It will be held in November for schools with Gr. 4-8 students that are selected to attend. The event will be held at the Pima Community College’s Northwest Campus this year. This event includes approximately 70 booths with science, engineering and technology demonstrations and hands-on events. More information will be forthcoming about application dates. Visit our website: Arizona STEM Adventure” to find out more.

What is the Physics Factory?

The Physics Factory is a University of Arizona spin-off from it’s Physics Phun night. The Physics Factory bus brings many incredible, fun and educational events directly to the class for an hour long visit. Contact Physics Factory for more information.

Registration in 2020?

Registration for SARSEF (online) is due by February 26th, 2020.


How do I pay the $10 Entry Fee?

A statement of fees owed will appear on your screen when you submit your project registration data. Payment for all projects from your school is to be made and received together if at all possible. If you do not pay online, send checks for all of the projects to: SARSEF Director, 4574 E Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85711. Make sure to indicate the school name and project title or student on the check.

Why an Entry Fee?

The high cost of running the Regional Fair requires us to charge Entry Fees.

$10.00 per project fee received before Registration Deadline

$20.00 per project fee received after Registration Deadline or for major category and grade level changes.

Why a $10 Late Registration Fee?

An additional $10 per project (total fee $20 per project) will be charged for all projects registering after the deadline. Schools having no alternative than to hold their school fair after that date MUST contact SARSEF before the deadline to request a late fee waiver.

Why a $10 Data Change Fee?

When changes are required at SARSEF, during registration,we may find we do not have the appropriate number of judges for a particular grade level or category, it costs additional funds for re-printing, copying, and usually involves moving a project from its current location to another. We have nearly 2,200 projects all in numerical order, so this becomes a difficulty on many individuals.

When the mistake to be corrected is unavoidable for some reason, the Director may provide a waiver; however, in all cases when the change is in project grade level or category the fee will not be waived.

My teacher already submitted my project, but I need to correct some of my registration data. Can I change it without a penalty fee?

Yes. If your project data has already been submitted and it is before the 1 week deadline before SARSEF, please contact SARSEF by email ASAP. Data changes made in advance will be accommodated.

I do not want to enter student contact data for their SARSEF registration. Can I enter school data instead?

Students in grades 6 -12 have the opportunity for other challenges such as Broadcom Masters and contests that follow SARSEF, including the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. This information is required to enter into these competitions.


My student does not have their own email or I prefer not to give the student's email address. What do I enter?

The email is so that we may contact the student if they have won, or if an organization wishes to contact them. We would make the contact. Any email that will assure communication directly to the student is acceptable (i.e. parent).

Who will be contacted if my student wins a prize at the SARSEF Fair?

SARSEF will post the names of students and teachers who have won an award and need to attend the Awards Ceremonies on Friday morning of SARSEF Fair Week at 10:00 am on our website.

Can a student register their own project on-line?

No. Only an adult from the school can enter projects for participation at SARSEF. Normally, this will be a Fair Director.

If I begin entering my projects and don't have all the data I need, what do I do?

You may log out and return at a later time without losing your previously entered data. Please take advantage of the worksheet to gather the needed information and to minimize the time and effort needed to enter your projects.

If I begin data entry and need to stop, what happens?

You may stop and restart at any stage of data entry up until you actually submit them to SARSEF. When you return to entering data, you will find your previous work has been maintained.

I've submitted my projects, but need to make a change. How do I do that?

Once you have submitted your projects, please contact SARSEF, preferable by email to make data changes. Please take advantage of the worksheet in preparing your data and for verifying its accuracy before submission. Data changes at the SARSEF event will cost an additional $10.00.

What can students include in their Display? Why can't they leave their plants, computers....with their project for the judges?

See the Rules and Regulations Section for what is unacceptable under “Display and Safety.” These items are listed for safety and health reasons.

Can students of different grade levels work on the same project?

Yes. Students of different grade levels may work on a project together, however, the project is to be registered as, and will be judged at, the highest grade level of the students working on the project.

What are the size limitations?

Kindergarten through 8th Grade:

  • 76cm (30in) deep, (front to back)
  • 90cm (36in) wide, (side-side)
  • 106cm (42in) high (table top-display top) {Tables are 76cm (30 in) high}. Electrical power is not provided at display tables for K-8 projects.

High School:

  • 76cm (30in) deep, front to back
  • 122cm (48in) wide, side to side
  • 274cm (108in) high, floor to top
  • Tables are 76cm (30in) high.

Electrical Power is no longer provided.

Can parents call to find out if their student won a prize?

SARSEF Officials will post the schools of all participants winning a prize at 10:00 am on Friday of the SARSEF week.

Every Child. Thinking Critically. Solving Problems.