The following are the rules established for the Montgomery County Science Day. Other fairs may have different rules so please check with them and do not assume all rules will be the same for all fairs. The maximum allowable size for a project is a depth of 30 inches, a width of 48 inches and a height of 108 inches (including table). While not strictly enforced at the MCSD, these standards should be kept in mind for those wishing to progress to the Intel ISEF fair. Team projects are limited to a maximum of 3 students for the project and may not change team members from previous fairs or for subsequent fairs. All forms for participation are required to be submitted to the MCSD committee before March 2nd. Additional rules and forms can be located at www.societyforscience.org/isef or www.societyforscience.org

Types of Projects

There are 2 kinds of projects that students are allowed to submit for judging: inquiry based research and non inquiry based research. Inquiry based research is any project that uses the Scientific Method to formulate a question, research all available information, evaluate possible solutions, create a controllable experiment, analyse data, draw conclusions from data patterns, and address any new questions that may arise from the results of your research.

Non inquiry based projects fall into 3 categories: engineering, computer science or mathematics. Engineering projects define a need, establish design criteria, research previous and existing solutions, create preliminary designs and asses their viability, build and test a prototype, and retest and redesign as necessary. Computer science projects involve creating and writing new algorithms to solve a problem or improve on existing ones. Mathematics projects involve proofs, solving equations, etc. to explain existing phenomena or prove new concepts and ideas.

Keys to a Successful Project

Here are a few tips to help make your project as successful as possible at the fair. First, keep a project data book. A project data book is an accurate and detailed record of notes and data collected during your research and experimentation. Also, a research paper should be prepared to accompany the project data book. A research paper should include a title page and table of contents, an introduction that states the purpose, a description of the materials and methodologies used, results, discussion of your results and expected results, conclusion summarizing the results, and credits and bibliography. Lastly, know that the judges are looking to see what the student learned during the project, how well they followed the required method (scientific, engineering, etc.), the detail and accuracy as recorded in the data book, and whether experimental procedures were used in the best possible way. Most importantly judges like to talk to the student to see they truly understand the material and not just listen to rehearsed speeches.

Things not allowed at MCSD

  • Living or preserved organisms, including plants
  • Chemicals including water (except bottled water for drinking)
  • Sharp objects and glass or glass objects
  • Flames and highly flammable materials
  • Operation of any display materials with projectile objects