SARSEF 2020 Winners

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Selected for SARSEF



If you were selected to attend SARSEF, you are already a winner! Your project will now go on to compete with others from around Southern Arizona. Check out what awards you can win in the “What Can I Win?” section! Your project may also qualify to go on to other competitions around the state and the nation!

You may need to give your teacher Page 2 of the following form:Sample Registration for SARSEF

If you register for SARSEF, you are also granting us permission to send your information to higher competitions if you win, such as Intel ISEF as an Observer, or Broadcom MASTERS, and AZSEF – all of which may earn you cash prizes, trips and fun!

There are some things that you need to know before you come to SARSEF. Read on, and learn  how you can increase your chances or being recognized for your great research.

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Important Dates to Know

You may need to give your teacher Page 2 of the following form:  Sample Registration for SARSEFMake sure that your project gets registered by February 26, 2020 so you can compete! Check with your school or teacher to make sure that this is done.

      • Make sure that your project gets registered by February 26, 2020 so you can compete! Check with your school or teacher to make sure that this is done.
      • By March 4, check to see if you or anyone at your school has received a Fast Check-in Form for your project. (Although not essential, preprinting this form can speed the process of setting up at SARSEF the following week.)
      • On March 11, make sure someone brings your project to the Tucson Convention Center for set up anytime between noon and 8 p.m. Your log book should go with your board. You are welcome to set up your own board after school as well.
      • Judging will take place on March 12.
      • Later that night, we will announce winning SARSEF projects. The information will be posted on our website after 8 p.m. (We will not tell you what you won, just that you did win something — so it will be a surprise on awards night!)
      • On March 13, be sure to bring friends and family to “Future Innovators Night.” The event will run 5:30-8 p.m. ALL students and parents are welcomed and encouraged to attend! There will be lots of interactive displays and demonstrations that night.
      • If you are an elementary school student, and your project was awarded a prize, the awards ceremony will be March 14.
      • IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to return and pick up your project on March 14 before 9pm. Any projects not removed by that time will be thrown away to make room for upcoming events.

      Choosing a Category


Your teacher or Fair Director will need to register your project. To do so, they will need a category choice from you.

Most projects fit well into several categories, but think of which one your project is MOSTLY about.

Ask yourself the following questions to help in the selection of a category:

Who will be the most qualified to judge my project? What area of expertise is the most important for the judge to have? (For example: a medical background or an engineering background?)

What is the emphasis of my project? What characteristic of my project is the most innovative, unique or important? (For example, is it the application in medicine or the engineering of the machine? Is it inserting the proper gene or the method of computer mapping to demonstrate the results?)

Here are your list of choices:

  • Animal and Plant Sciences (AP):  The study of animal and plant life, including their structure, function, life history, interactions with other plants and animals, classification, and evolution. Includes: Animal Behavior, Development and Growth, Ecology, Genetics/ Breeding, Nutrition and growth, Pathology, Physiology, Soil and Pesticides, Systematics, and Evolution.
  • Behavioral and Social Sciences (BE):  The science or study of the thought processes and behavior of humans and other animals in their interactions with the environment studied through observational and experimental methods. Includes work on Psychology and Sociology.
  • Cellular and Microbiological Sciences (CM):  The study of the cells and microorganisms. Including cell structure and formation, genetics, immunology, systems within the cell, antimicrobial agents, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and pathogens.
  • Chemical Sciences (CH):  The science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter and/or their interactions with living organisms. Includes the study of the design, synthesis and properties of substances, including condensed phases (solids, liquids, polymers) and interfaces, with a useful or potentially useful function, such as catalysis or solar energy.
  • Earth and Environmental Science (EE):  Earth and Environmental Science are studies of the environment and its effect on organisms/systems, including investigations of biological processes such as growth and life span, as well as studies of Earth systems and their evolution.  Including: Atmospheric Science, Climate Science, Environmental Effects on Ecosystems, Geosciences, Water Science.  
  • Energy and Environmental Engineering (EN): Energy is the study of renewable energy sources and structures, energy efficiency, biological and chemical processes of renewable energy sources, clean transport, and alternative fuels. Includes: Hydro Power, Solar Power, Wind Power, Thermal Power, Sustainable Design, Alternative Fuels, Fossil Fuel Energy, Fuel Cells and Battery Development, Microbial Fuel Cells. Environmental Engineering are studies that engineer or develop processes and infrastructure to solve environmental problems in the supply of water, the disposal of waste, or the control of pollution. Including:  Bioremediation, Land Reclamation, Pollution Control, Recycling and Waste Management, Water Resources Management
  • Engineering Robotics, and Computer Science (ER): Engineering studies the design, manufacture, and operation of machines, structures, processes, and systems. Includes, Aerospace and Aeronautical, Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, Construction, Industrial, Processing, Ground and Naval vehicles. Robotics is studies in which the use of machine intelligence is paramount to reducing the reliance on human intervention such as Biomechanics, Cognitive Systems, Control Theory, Robot Kinematics, Machine Learning.  Computer Science is the study and development of technological software and hardware and information processes. Includes: Programming, Algorithms, Data Bases, Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, Networking and Communications, Computational Science, Computer Graphics, Software Engineering, Programming Languages, Computer System, Operating System.
  • Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics (PM): Physics is the science of matter and energy and of interactions between the two. Includes: light, sound, magnetism and motion.  Astronomy is the study of anything in the universe beyond the Earth.  Mathematics is the study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols.



Your project must have been one of the best to be chosen. You will want to thank all of those who believe in you by representing them as best you can.

Take some time now to make sure your glue is still sticking, and you have made everything nice and neat. You will be glad you did!

Make sure that your name and school is printed on the back of your poster/board in case it gets lost or misplaced at SARSEF.

Impressing judges with your science and, to a much lesser extent, with your project board is important. Yes, a colorful project board neatly laid out with beautiful photos will draw attention to it, so working towards that goal is good.

However, once a judge starts reviewing your work he/she usually starts by looking at your problem statement/hypothesis, then at your conclusion, and after reviewing those two they review your abstract, presentation, data analysis, and try to determine how creative and curious you really were. Judges generally follow the point system laid out in the criteria listed  below, so now is the time to make sure that you clearly show evidence of each of your steps on your board.

2014 Judging Criteria Middle School: All Science Categories

The following evaluation criteria will be used for judging at SARSEF for Science. It has been updated to reflect the latest scientific thinking and parallels the criteria used to judge middle and high school projects. Awards’ judging is conducted using a 100-point scale with points assigned to the research question, design and methodology, execution, creativity and presentation. The Engineering Criteria is very similar but has distinct differences. Go to Judging Criteria to view that scoring sheet :

Each section includes key items to consider for evaluation. Students are encouraged to design their posters in a clear and informative manner to allow thorough evaluation. Judges should take into consideration the grade level when scoring. Examine the student notebook and, if present, any special forms if SRC permission is required.

I. Research Question (15 pts.)

___ clear and focused purpose

___ identifies contribution to field of study

___ testable using scientific methods (follows rules and SRC)


II. Design and Methodology (25 pts.)

___ well-designed plan and data collection methods

___ variables and controls defined, appropriate and complete


III. Execution: Data Collection, Analysis and Interpretation (25 pts.)

___ systematic data collection and analysis

___ reproducibility of results

___ sufficient data collected to support interpretation and conclusions

___ appropriate application of mathematical methods for comparison


IV. Creativity (20 pts.)

(A creative project demonstrates imagination and inventiveness. Such projects often are ones that are about something that the student personally cares about, and have not been done hundreds of times before or have been frequently listed in science fair idea books or websites. Creative projects offer different perspectives that open up new possibilities or new alternatives.)

___ project demonstrates significant creativity in one or more Criteria I -III or V

____ idea appears novel – at least to the student (not copied or seen repeatedly)

____ idea appears to be something that student cares about


V. Board/Poster Presentation (15 pts.)

___ evidence of scientific process, understanding of basic science relevant to project

___ colorful, creative and logical organization of display

___ clarity of graphs, legends & graphics

___ supporting documentation displayed

___ understanding limitations of results and conclusions

___ recognition of potential impact in science, society and planet/ world

___ thought through implications, ideas for further research

Data is important in research. The more data you have, and the more sophisticated the analysis, the more accurate in your science. This will impress the judges. If your data shows trends, use good analysis and graphically represent those trends. Be careful about making predictions out of the scope of your project — that is, interpreting a cause and effect that you cannot statistically support with your data. Whenever possible report your conclusions using your math skills. Consult your science and math teachers for assistance.

Your abstract can do a lot to influence a judge. Good use of the written language is a key part of a scientist or engineer’s profession. Writing a good abstract will impress, especially if backed up by good data collection and analysis. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words.

Other Competitions You Can Enter

The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge (DYSC). This is the nation’s premier science competition for students in grades 5-8. Students have the opportunity to win amazing cash prizes and once-in-a-lifetime trips.

Google Science Fair: This is an online competition open to students aged 13-18.

AzSEF: If you are one of the top winners at SARSEF, you will be eligible to enter the State Science Fair in Phoenix in April.

Broadcom MASTERS: If you are one of the first place winners at SARSEF in Grades 6-8, you will be eligible to enter the Broadcom MASTERS competition, where the Top 30 students win a trip to Washington, D.C.

Every Child. Thinking Critically. Solving Problems.