Ways to Participate


SARSEF Fair is open to grades Pre-K through 12. Below are a few basics to start thinking about as you decide how and to what degree you want your school to participate. There are a wide range of options for you to choose from, ranging from just a few key students or teachers piloting the idea, to whole-school participation.

There are three ways your students may do and enter projects. (Your school may have a combination of all of them.)

  • Individual: Each student works on his or her own idea, and does their own research and project board/pdf.
  • Team: Teams of two or three students decide on the same topic, and work together to research and present. (Each student is involved in all phases, versus divide and conquer.)
  • Group or class project: 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. Group/class projects will be judged separately from individual and team projects at the SARSEF Science and Engineering Fair. (Please note, group/class projects will not be eligible for Broadcom MASTERS, the International Science and Engineering Fair, and other prizes and scholarships.)

Levels of School Involvement

Option A: The Ideal - Full Scale Science Research School, Everybody Does Something

Do you believe that students need more practice as problem solvers? Do they need to improve their ability to think critically and creatively? Then take the challenge to become a full-scale science research school this year. Ask every teacher to be a “teacher of science,” and support every student as they enter a research project this year.

Since according to our national and Arizona state standards all teachers are required to teach the Scientific Method, a school principal may want to ask every teacher to complete the process with the minimum of one class project per teacher. Ideally, many teachers will also encourage individual, team or small group projects.

Teachers can leave the topic choice to each student (preferred), or may use what is being taught in the curriculum that year to narrow the topic. By the middle of February, every teacher should have a minimum of ONE project that represents the best of his or her class to put up for display. This might be an individual or team project, or a class project. Although only the top projects will go on to represent your school, EVERY child will have experienced what it is like to test an idea, control variables, follow a process, record data and form a conclusion following an idea of their choice from beginning to end.

Option B: One Teacher Per Grade Level or Limited Grade Levels

A school principal may want to select the top science teacher at each grade level, or ask for a volunteer, to complete this option. The teacher would allow each student to do his or her own project, or ask students to form teams or small groups so the number of projects is more manageable. In this option, students would be allowed to pursue something they are curious about, and decide how to best test their idea with guidance from the teacher. 

Although we believe it’s beneficial for children to engage in science research every year, we understand that this may be too challenging when first getting involved. A school may decide to select just certain grade levels to participate and pioneer the process. The following year, it could flip and the other half of the school would participate.

With this option, the top projects from these classes/grades are sent on to represent the school.

Option C: Pilot Year – Teacher Leaders Only, Curriculum-Guided Choice

Ask one or two of your top teachers to participate this first year. They will teach and use the Scientific Method to their students and then decide whether to allow student choice of topics or limit the choice to one science unit that is already required by the curriculum. The process, data and results can be recorded as a class, or in four or five teams or small groups, or each child can complete his or her own project. The top projects from these two classes will go on to SARSEF to represent your school.

Option D: Form a Science Club

Ask one or two teachers to commit to six to eight weeks for a science club that meets before or after school and guides the research process. Teach the process and help students find a topic. Meet each week to check on progress. Select top projects from the club members for SARSEF.

Option E: Parent As Leaders

In some schools, parents have become the organizers and leaders for science research projects, and the teachers are their supporters. In this option, teachers send home the basic steps and timelines for completing a project — we will provide these — and it is conducted at home. All projects are brought to a central location (or presented via a virtual platform) for judging on a certain date. Teachers from lower grades select the top projects from the upper grades and vice versa. The research project can be optional – or it may be required as a part of the classes’ science homework.

Option F: Independent Entries

If you cannot find a way to do any of the options listed above, you can still allow students to enter independently. Often students transfer from schools where science fair projects were very much a part of their world. They need to know that they can still enter, even if your school does not participate. Even if only ONE student from your school wants to enter, it is important to let them.

Please let students know in the daily announcements or parent meetings that if they want to enter SARSEF, they may come to the office to “sign up” by a date of your choosing, and indicate they would like to submit a project that they will be working on at home. Usually there are no more than a few. One school representative (who can be a parent) will need to be responsible for making sure there are no more than 10 projects, and for registering them for SARSEF (Registration is open late January to February). If there are more than 10 projects, a teacher particularly talented in science should be requested to choose the top projects.

Selecting Projects for the SARSEF Regional Fair

Make sure to follow the Important Dates closely to have your top projects selected and registered in time. If a student is selected for SARSEF, you’ll need to collect this information: Sample Registration for SARSEF 2021

Depending on your school’s level of engagement, you may need to schedule a School  Science Fair to determine which projects should move on to the SARSEF regional fair. We recommend that you ask a teacher to organize this effort; however, some schools ask a key parent to do so.

Running a School Science Fair

The person you designate to lead the effort will be called your “Fair Director.” They will want to read the resources on this website that are designed to help and support Fair Directors.

They will organize and announce a time when all students who have completed a project will bring it to a centrally located place in your school for others to view. This also may occur remotely through a virtual exhibit hall, like the one provided free-of-charge at schoolfairs.sarsef.org. The school will then decide which projects will continue on to represent your school at SARSEF Fair.

Deciding which projects to send to SARSEF Fair can be a formal process consisting of a full “fair and judging process,” or an informal affair with a few key individuals who are knowledgeable about science, and dedicated to helping students achieve their maximum potential.

We will publicize all schools represented at SARSEF Fair in a full-page ad in the Arizona Daily Star. Make sure that you enter projects this year to have your school represented!

For more information about any option, you may schedule a free school/classroom presentation by signing up below.

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Every Child. Thinking Critically. Solving Problems.