SARSEF

Every child. Thinking critically. Solving problems.

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Determine team size

Projects can be done by individual students, in teams, or as a class/group.

Individual (1 student)

Each student works on his or her own idea, and does their own research and project board.

Team (2-3 student)

Teams of two or three students decide on the same topic, and work together to research and present. (Each student needs to be involved in all phases – they should not divide and conquer.)

Group or Class Project (4+ student)

Four or more students, or an entire class, agree on one topic and work on it together. Each member of the group or class should be a part of the entire process, and keep their own lab book/journal with notes about the process and data.

Note: Group/class projects will be judged separately from individual and team projects at the SARSEF Fair. Middle and High School Group/class projects will not be eligible for Broadcom MASTERS, the International Science and Engineering Fair, and scholarships.

Science or engineering

Students will need to determine whether they are creating a science research project or engineering research project. Although very similar, scoring and judging is slightly different. As a basic rule, science is answering questions, while engineering is solving problems.

Project categories

Projects are judged according to the category they are assigned. Some projects may fit into multiple categories. When registering, students will determine which category they feel their project fits best. If students are having trouble selecting a category, it might help for them to consider what background they want the judges reviewing their project to have.

Elementary and Middle School Categories

This category explores human and animal behavior, social sciences, anatomy, physiology, and science and engineering projects directly related to human and animal wellness and life improvement. Other examples include projects related to blood pressure, heart rate, thought processes and behavior of humans and other animals in their interactions with the environment, learning, and mental health.

This category includes science and engineering projects related to electricity, circuitry, electrical and mechanical engineering, computer hardware and software development, phone applications, robotics, and intelligent machines. Other examples include programming languages and operating systems, sensors and signal processing, computer science, machine learning, AI, and cybersecurity.

This category contains science and engineering projects related to changes in matter such as ice melting, as well as the production and storage of energy. This category includes chemistry projects involving composition, structure, and reactions of indelible matter. Other examples of topics include wind turbines, solar ovens, batteries, material sciences, and thermodynamics.

This category involves science and engineering projects related to food science, chemistry of cooking and food production, food preparation, food preservation, and nutrition. Other examples of topics include healthy eating and drinking, effective food preparation, food safety, food mold studies, cooking and baking, and the effects of food or drink.

This category includes science and engineering projects related to physics, laws of motion, magnetism, gravity, mathematics, and astronomy. Other topics might include the studies of atoms, particles, and molecules.

This category includes science and engineering projects related to climate, the plant kingdom, agriculture, ecosystems, atmosphere, pollution control, sustainability, natural resources, and recycling. Other topics might include ecology, geology, water resources and management, and environmental engineering.

This category comprises science and engineering projects related to fungi, bacteria, non-food mold, viruses, diseases, cell and molecules, and other microorganisms. This category also includes projects related to antimicrobial and antibiotic substances as well as disease prevention.

High School Categories

This category includes all aspects of animals and animal life, animal life cycles, and animal interactions with one another or with their environment. 

Examples of investigations included in this category would involve the study of the structure, physiology, development, genetics, and classification of animals, animal behavior, animal systematics and evolution, animal behavior, animal ecology, animal husbandry including nutrition and growth, entomology, ichthyology, ornithology, and herpetology, as well as the study of animals at the cellular and molecular level which would include cytology, histology, and cellular physiology.

This category includes science and engineering projects related to electricity, circuitry, electrical and mechanical engineering, computer hardware and software development, phone applications, robotics, and intelligent machines. 

Examples of investigations included in this category involve electrical and mechanical engineering, signals and waveforms, civil engineering, aerospace and aeronautical engineering, robotics and machine intelligence, languages and operating systems, mobile apps, algorithms, biomechanics, sensors and signal processing, computer science, cybersecurity, control theory, networking and data communications, and computational mechanics.

The science or study of the thought processes and behavior of humans in their interactions with the environment, studied through observational and experimental methods. 

**Please note- projects involving mental health and psychological disease and disorders should select the Mental Health category**

Examples of investigations included in this category would involve the study of developmental psychology, comparative psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, physiological psychology, sociology and social psychology.

Studies involving the understanding of life and cellular processes specifically at the molecular level including the structure, function, intracellular pathways, and growth and development of cells. This also includes studies of the chemical basis of processes occurring in living organisms, including the processes by which these substances enter into, or are formed in, the organisms and react with each other and the environment.

Examples of investigations included in this category would involve the study of analytical, general, medicinal, and structural biochemistry, cell physiology, cellular immunology, genetics, molecular biology, and neurobiology.

Studies exploring the science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter not involving biochemical systems.

Examples of investigations included in this category would involve the study of analytical chemistry, computational chemistry, environmental chemistry, inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, materials science, biomaterials, ceramic and glasses, composite material, nanomaterials, and polymers.

This is an interdisciplinary field addressing questions that could only be answered using computers and large databases. Regardless of topic studied, projects that primarily utilized big data sources, large data sets, or that utilize previously collected large data sources. Projects involving the study of measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols and the deductive study of numbers, geometry, and various abstract constructs, or structures.

Examples of investigations included in this category would involve computational biomodeling, computational epidemiology, computational biology, computational neuroscience, computational pharmacology, genomics, informatics, probability and statistics, data analysis and visualization, modeling, data mining, information science, databases, algebra, analysis, combinatorics, graph theory, game theory, geometry and topology, and number theory.

This category includes the study of the Earth’s atmosphere, climate, land and water systems, including movement, distribution and quality, its processes, and the effects systems have with one another, and change over time. Projects involving the study of the impact of environmental changes (natural or as a result of human interaction) on ecosystems.

Examples of investigations in this category include bioremediation, land reclamation, atmospheric science, climate science, ecology, environmental effects on ecosystems, geosciences, water science/hydrology.

Studies that focus on addressing issues of human health and disease, including studies on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention or epidemiology of disease and other damage to the human body, not including mental systems.* This includes studies of normal functioning and may investigate internal as well as external factors such as feedback mechanisms or environmental impact on human health and disease. It also includes projects that aim to improve human health and longevity by translating novel discoveries in the biomedical sciences into effective activities and tools for clinical and public health use. 

Examples of investigations included in this category would involve the study of organ and systems physiology, genetics and molecular biology of disease, immunology, nutrition and natural products, pathophysiology, bioengineering, biomaterials and regenerative medicine, biomechanics, biomedical devices, biomedical sensors and imaging, cell and tissue engineering, synthetic biology, disease detection and diagnosis, disease prevention, disease treatment and therapies, drug identification and testing, pre-clinical studies.

*Studies on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention or epidemiology of disease and other damage to mental systems should select the Mental Health category.

Studies investigating the origins, nature, diagnosis, amelioration and treatment, epidemiology, and prevention of mental and behavioral health problems in individuals, couples, families, cultures, and diverse communities.

Examples of investigations are those within clinical psychology, including studies of mental disease and disorders, depression, anxiety, stress, and general well-being.

The study of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, prokaryotes, and simple eukaryotes as well as antimicrobial and antibiotic substances.

Examples of investigations included in this category would involve the study of antimicrobial and antibiotics, applied microbiology, bacteriology, environmental microbiology, microbial genetics, virology, and fungi.

This category includes science and engineering projects related to physics, laws of motion, classical mechanics, macroscopic study of forces, vibrations, and flows on solids, liquids and gaseous materials, magnetism, and astronomy. Projects studying aerodynamics or hydrodynamics, the study of atoms, simple molecules, electrons, light, and their interactions. The study of space, the universe as a whole, including its origins and evolution, the physical properties of objects in space and computational astronomy also belong in this category.
Example topics include atomic, molecular, and optical physics, astronomy and cosmology, lasers and masers, biological physics, condensed matter and materials, mechanics, nuclear and particle physics, theoretical, computational, and quantum physics.

This category includes science and engineering projects related to the Plant Kingdom. 

Examples of investigations in this category include plant growth and development, plant genetics and breeding, agriculture and agronomy, as well cellular and molecular aspects of plant development and environmental effects. Plant physiology, the study of plants and plant cells, photosynthesis and transpiration, as well as plant pathology, including plant disease states and effects of parasites or disease-causing microbes are also found in this category. In addition, projects that explore the interactions and relationships among plants, and plants and animals, with their environment, plant ecology, systematics and evolution.

Studies and/or processes involving the sustainable production and/or storage of energy, and the engineering or development of processes and infrastructure to solve environmental problems such as the supply of water, the disposal of waste, or the control of pollution. This includes studies involving using biological processes to produce sources of energy, photovoltaics, battery and storage cell composition and design. This also includes the application of engineering principles and design concepts involving hydrogen production, generating power through wind and water movement, geothermal and other thermal sources, or static charge, electrolysis reaction, and charged particles. 

Example topics include pollution control, recycling and waste management, water resources management, solar process, materials, and design, energy storage, wind and water movement power generation, hydrogen generation and storage, thermal generation and design, triboelectricity and electrolysis.