Rules and Regulations

1. Eligibility

(a) Students will be selected to compete at the Simcoe County Regional Science Fair through their school science fair. Each school will be allowed to send a maximum of 15 exhibits to the Regional Fair.

(b) Projects may also be entered by individual students if their school is not participating in science fair. A designated teacher should contact the appropriate Area Representative on behalf of the student but if no teacher is available a parent may register the participant.

2. Exhibit Classification

(A) Exhibits are classified into five categories:

Computer and Engineering Technology

Computer technology projects concentrate primarily on the development of computing hardware, software or applications, including programming languages and algorithms, software design and databases as well as the storage, transmission and manipulation of information

Projects using computers to store and analyze data are normally entered in the division suggested by the focus of the experiment or study. However, if the projects focus is primarily on the application of computing to the problem and the data are of secondary significance, the project should be entered in this division.

An engineering project applies physical knowledge to solve a problem or achieve a purpose. A complete engineering project will include an outline of the need, the development of the innovation and some work on introducing the innovation to the community; however, many engineering projects focus on just the development phase.
Engineering projects normally focus on a new process, or a new product. A study of Bernoullií’s principle to improved aerodynamics and wing design would be engineering.

Earth and Environmental Sciences

Earth and environmental sciences projects focus on topics relating to planetary processes, the relationship of organisms to those processes, or the relationships between or among organisms.

Projects in this division can include issues in any of the following scientific disciplines: geology, mineralogy, physiography, oceanography, limnology, climatology, seismology, geography, and ecology. Earth and environmental sciences includes the study of pollution, its sources and its control. It can also involve studies of biotic and/or abiotic factors in an environment, where such studies enhance our understanding or biological relationships and abiotic cycles.

Studies dealing with resource management or sustainable development usually fall into this category. Examples of such studies might include capture/recapture studies estimating population densities, determining bioproductivity in a specific ecosystem or niche, plate tectonics studies or examinations of mineral cycles (e.g., salt mills in the oceans).

Human and Health Sciences

A human and health sciences project examines some biomedical and/or clinical aspect of human life or lifestyle and its translation into improved health for humans, or more effective health services and products. Projects related to the health of specific populations, societal and cultural dimensions of health, and environmental influences on health are also included in this division.

Human and health sciences projects include those related to human aging, genetics, cancer research, musculoskeletal health, arthritis, circulatory and respiratory health, nutrition, neurosciences, mental health, psychology, metabolism, human development, infection and immunology.

Projects involving animal research that have direct application to humans are included in this division.

Plant and Animal Sciences

A plant and animal science project examines some aspect of the life or lifestyle of a non-human organism.

Plant and animal science projects include botany and zoology, as well as psychology and kinesiology of non-human organisms. Examining plant growth or animal behaviour are examples of plant and animal science. Some phenomena, such as digestion, involve both plant and animal science and physical science. The selection of division will spend on whether the young scientists intent was to study the chemistry of the process, or the role of the process in the life of the animal (eating, production of enzymes, handling of wastes, etc.)

Physical & Mathematical Sciences

A physical and mathematical project studies abiotic phenomenon to understand the relationship between identified factors, perhaps including a cause and effect relationship, or the use of mathematical models or mathematics to solve theoretical problems.

Physical science projects include fields such as physics, and chemistry and astronomy. Comparison testing of products is included in this division.

Mathematical science projects seek to demonstrate applications of mathematics (i.e. the search for a mathematical model) or to solve a theoretical problem. For example, in attempting to predict the shape of cacti, the use of mathematics would be central to the project. The problem provides a context for the exploration of pattern and the search for a mathematical model. Some areas of investigation in this category include algorithms, operational research (applications of mathematical and computing science to solve planning or operational problems), and statistics.

(B) Exhibits are further classified into four categories based on the grade the student is in.

Grades   4 –   6 Elementary
Grades   7 –   8 Junior
Grades   9 – 10 Intermediate
Grades 11 – 12 Senior

(C) A maximum of two students may work together on an exhibit with the approval of their teacher. If the pupils are in different grades, then the exhibit will be judged in the category of the pupil in the higher grade.

(D) Exhibits must be designed and assembled entirely by students, although teachers and others may give advice. Any assistance given by someone else should be noted clearly on the display.

3. Exhibit Construction

A) Display Dimensions:

1. Backboards and title boards must be self-supporting. Presentation and prop material and all display equipment must fit entirely within the following dimensions and restrictions:

i)  1.2 m wide, 0.8 m deep and 2.5 m high from the floor
ii) No portion of the display shall project into any aisle

2. Exhibits exceeding these dimensions must be modified before they will receive safety approval.

3. From time to time, an exhibitor may need to go beyond the limits of the regulation project space to demonstrate an aspect of their project. The following guidelines should be used in these circumstances:

(i) all material must be contained within the space when it is not being demonstrated;

(ii) Any demonstrations should be done for the purpose of judging only. Where project work utilizes materials or devices that exceed the regulation space, students may represent such devices, etc. through models, drawings, videos, etc.

B) Backboard and Display Materials

1. Backboards and title boards constructed of the following materials are specifically prohibited:

i.) Coroplast (except Firewall F.R.B.): Corrugated plastic (polypropylene) sheeting product.

ii) Foam board: Plastic (PVC or polystyrene) foam sandwiched between sheets of paper product. Includes Foam core board, Gator Board.

iii) Plastic: Include polyethylene sheeting (black/clear), foamed polystyrene (styrofoam).

2. Presentation information including text, graphics, photographs and other data on the backboard must be printed on bond (laser, inkjet, or standard copier), photographic or laminated paper.

3. Presentation information, including outlines, borders and decorative elements must be attached to approved backboard material with adhesive so it makes a solid contact over the complete surface.

4. Anything used to raise presentation information more than 2 mm above the surface of the backboard must be constructed of approved backboard material.

5. Papers presented on the exhibit table must be secured in a binder, Duo-tang, presentation folder, plastic sleeve or other appropriate enclosure.

4. Safety

When assessing the hazards of exhibits, the exhibitors must ask themselves the question, “Could a viewer, particularly a small child, touch or spill materials and hurt himself?” If so, additional safety precautions must be taken by the exhibitor.

The experiments carried out by students should conform to the safety procedures outlined in the Youth Science Safety Policies

– General Safety Suggestions
– Pesticides
– Recombinant DNA and Biotechnological Safety
– Boilers and Pressure Vessels
– Firearms and Projectiles
– Lasers

Students should also be instructed about the following procedures:

(a) Fire – Open flames are not to be used in the display area. However, under some special circumstances, approval may be given by the Science & Technology Fair Committee Safety Officer, if the request is submitted in writing at least one week prior to the fair. Also, combustible materials are not to be near any heat source.

(b) Chemical – Chemicals deemed to be dangerous to the public must not be displayed in exhibits. Prescription drugs and over-the –counter medications must not be displayed. Substitutes may be used to simulate chemicals and should be labeled with the name of the substance it represents preceded by the word “simulated”.

i. Table salt can be used to simulate many chemicals, such as ammonium nitrate
ii. Water can represent alcohol, ether and many other liquids.
iii. Molasses can be used to simulate petroleum products

Photographs or empty packages of prohibited materials may be displayed. Any WHMIS labels (supplier or workplace) should be attached to show understanding of safe work practices.
The total quantity of liquids displayed at a project shall not exceed 1 litre. Photographs and/or video should be used to demonstrate processes requiring larger quantities of liquid.

(c) Electrical – Electrical devices must be protectively enclosed as far as it is practical. The cord connecting the electrical appliance must have a 3-wire conductor with ground and be CSA approved. Power bars, lighting and other electrical devices shall be CSA approved.
Electrical devices constructed by finalists must comply with the following requirements to be approved for display. As they cannot be CSA approved, these devices may only be connected and operated during judging.

i. Electrical devices must be protected by a non-combustible enclosure.
ii. An insulating grommet is required at the point where electrical service enters an enclosure.
iii. Electrical devices shall use as low a voltage as possible.
iv. Exposed live parts over 36 Volts are not permitted. Current (amperage) must be low enough not to cause any danger or discomfort if touched.
v. A pilot light should be used to indicate when power is on.

Dry cells (Alkaline, NiCad, NiMH, Lilon, etc.) and sealed lead-acid batteries (gel cells) may be used. Wet cell batteries are not permitted.

Wet cells shall not be used because of the hazardous chemicals involved.

(d) Structural and Mechanical – Exhibit construction must be of a safe design with adequate stability to keep from tipping. Exhibits must be self-supporting.

i. Sharp edges or corners of prisms, mirrors, enclosures and glass or metal plates that may be contacted by the public must be removed or protected to prevent injury.
ii. Dangerous moving parts, such as belts, gears, pulleys and blades, must be provided with a guard to prevent access to the moving parts.
iii. An in-running nip hazard of any part of a motor, device or thing that may be a danger shall be guarded to prevent contact with the pinch point.
iv. A pressure vessel must have a safety valve, rupture disc or similar device to limit internal pressure below the burst pressure of the vessel.
v. The safety valve shall relieve to a safe or remote area.
vi. Compressed gas cylinders shall not be displayed.
vii. Moving exhibits (e.g., radio-controlled vehicles, robots) shall be restricted to the regulation display space. The Host Committee may, at its discretion, provide an area to safely demonstrate projects that require more space than the regulation display space.

(e) Use of x-rays or Radiation-Producing Equipment – If an exhibit uses x-ray equipment or any other equipment capable of emitting high energy radiation, Ontario Government ownership registration is required. Lasers may only by operated under supervision of the Simcoe County Regional Science Fair Safety Officer.

(f) Micro-organisms and Bio-hazards – Bacterial cultures, biological toxins, micro-organisms pathogenic to animals, cells or tissues infected with animal viruses MUST NOT be displayed. It is recommended that photographs or simulated cultures be used.

(g) Exhibits must comply with all animal and safety regulations. Exhibits will be checked by the Simcoe County Regional Science and Technology Fair Safety Officer prior to judging and concerns will be noted on the Safety Officer Report. (See page 16.)

(h) Note: Although some items may be displayed at Simcoe County Fairs, the following items may not be displayed at the Canada Wide Science Fair:

i. No cultures are allowed for exhibition. Photographs or simulated cultures may be used.
ii. No plant tissue, soil or decomposable material shall be exhibited.
iii. Live micro-organisms and vertebrate or non-vertebrate animals shall not be included in the display, although appropriate photographs may be in the report.

5. Animal Experimentation


All students and teachers must read the guidelines and policies on the Youth Science Canada web site under Ethics and the Youth Science Policy Directory.

Gaining an understanding, and contributing to the knowledge, of living processes motivates a relatively large number of students to engage in inquiry-based, project-oriented studies involving biological experimentation with animals. Such studies provide an opportunity to lead students to respect all living things and to educate students on the laws, regulations, and procedures that govern experimental research involving animals.

Student investigations of biological processes are subject to the prevailing provincial and federal laws, ethics, and regulations, as well as to Youth Science Canada policies and regulations.

All aspects of a project involving biological experimentation with animals must be within the comprehension and capabilities of the student undertaking the study.

Students must read and understand the following rules, regulations and policy: Policy 4.1.2 – Use of Animals in Research Policy (Form)

Forms for Use of Animals in Research

(also found under “Forms“)

Downloadable and fillable/saveable forms for animal participation can be found at the Youth Science Policy Directory.

Form 4.1C – Animals Approval must be available at the project display for review by the Simcoe County Regional Ethics Committee for every project that involves vertebrates or Cephalopods, their embryos or their tissue samples. (Download PDF file).

6. Human Experimentation

All students and teachers must read the guidelines and policies on the Youth Science Canada web site under Introduction to Ethics and Ethics Policy Directory.

Low Risk:


Form 4.1C – Animals Approval must be available at the project display for review by the Simcoe County Regional Ethics Committee for every project that involves vertebrates or Cephalopods, their embryos or their tissue samples.

Science fairs often include excellent projects involving human research participants. These projects are based in the social and behavioural sciences such as psychology, sociology, and education, and in related health sciences such as physiology, kinesiology and nursing.

Researchers need to ensure that their participants are safe, that they are treated with respect and dignity, and that the information they provide will be kept confidential. These ethical safeguards are primarily the responsibility of the science fair student researchers and their teachers or mentors. Projects that involve the participation of humans need to be mentored, and that all appropriate safety and ethical concerns are addressed.

Proper monitoring and screening of projects involving the use of human participants in any science fair project starts during the planning stages. Teachers and mentors should be familiar with the ethical standards and rules (as listed below) when accepting student project proposals that involve participation of humans to avoid disqualification at the Simcoe County Regional Science and Technology Fair.

There are two types of human participation projects: Low Risk and Significant Risk Projects. Both projects require different approvals and consent forms.

Please read all documents, policies, and rules and
complete the appropriate forms
(e.g. consent and approvals at the various levels).

Any Simcoe County Regional Science and Technology Fair participants must have the appropriate documentation completed prior to registration.

Low Risk Projects

Low Risk Projects involve conditions where the risks of harm are not greater or more likely than those encountered in everyday life. Examples are: some, but not all, surveys of attitudes and beliefs; skill tests; observations of behaviour; sensory food projects. It is sufficient to have the adult supervisor assume responsibility for supervision of ethical as well as scientific aspects of the project, and also complete “Form 4.1A Participation of Humans – Low Risk” (Form Directory) ensuring that the essential elements of ethics review: consent, confidentiality and the right to withdraw are considered. Written informed consent from parents or guardians is mandatory for all projects involving humans, and is mandatory for all food ingestion projects. Within a school, this is a good opportunity to have the class learn about the ethics of research involving humans. We strongly encourage all adults who are supervising such projects to take the time to read Policy Participation of Humans – Low Risk.

Examples of Low Risk Projects

Surveys of Attitudes and Beliefs, Skill Tests, or Observations of Behaviour – These are all Low Risk Projects. Be aware however that not all survey/skill testing studies are automatically low risk. For example, a project to measure the Body Mass Index of a class could cause considerable discomfort to students who perceive themselves to be overweight. Skill testing could be a difficult experience for a participant who scores well below the group average. It is the responsibility of the adult supervisor to ensure that participants are not put at risk, either physically or emotionally. Mechanisms such as discussion and debriefing should be used to minimize any remaining risk.

Sensory Food Projects – Such projects are designed only to assess the sensory characteristics of a food, defined by the Food and Drugs Act (1953) as:

any article manufactured, sold or represented for use as food or drink for human beings, chewing gum, and any ingredient that may be mixed with food for any purpose whatsoever;

the foods to be considered are basic foods for which no health benefits are to be claimed, and contain permitted additives not exceeding recommended daily allowance guidelines (RDI) normally associated with those foods.

Sensory evaluation of foods should only be conducted in participants who are not taking prescription medications, to minimize the risk of drug-food interactions.

Sports Drinks – Sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade re-hydrate the body. These sports drinks also provide sugars, which the body burns to create energy and replenish electrolytes. Electrolytes maintain salt and potassium balances in the body. Sports drinks may be used in Science Fair Projects.

Energy Drinks – Health Canada has concerns about the safe use of energy drinks. Thus Energy Drinks may NOT be used in Science Fair Projects.

Absorption through the skin – Projects that involve absorption through the skin must satisfy the rules for a low risk project. Thus a project comparing different ways of removing bacteria using different brands of hand sanitizer is legal. A project that involves putting benzene on the skin is not.

Natural Herbal Products – Natural herbal products that are purported to produce a physiological response may not be used in a science fair project.

Medications (prescription and non-prescription) – All medications, even those available without a prescription, are considered drugs. Drugs may be used in any experiment exhibited at a Science Fair only if carried out in a Hospital, University, Medical or other similar Laboratory under the direction of a Scientific Supervisor.

Significant Risk Projects

All other projects are considered significant risk projects. The student should complete a Research Plan and submit it to at least one person knowledgeable about ethics, preferably a member of the RSF Ethics Committee. A copy of the  letter of information and the informed consent policy  (see the forms page) must also be included. Prior to the Fair, Form 4.1 B, Participation of Humans – Significant Risk – Approval must be submitted. All students, adult supervisors and scientific Supervisors must take the time to read the policy.

All Human Participation Policy and Forms Directory

Human Informed Consent Forms

also under “Forms

Prior to undertaking any projects involving human testing or surveys, test subjects must sign a consent form acknowledging the purpose of the testing being done and the potential risks involved. This consent form must also offer the test subjects the opportunity to review the results of the project once complete. If the test subject is under the age of 18, this consent form must be signed by either a parent or legal guardian. All signed consent forms must be available at the project display at all times, for review by the Simcoe County Regional Science Fair Ethics Committee. Sample copies and forms for human participation can be found on the Youth Science Canada web site.

7. Judging

At the beginning of each science fairplanning year, the Committee will elect a Head Judge to oversee all judging processes and issues.

When selecting judges care it taken to ensure that they are familiar with the judging criteria, particularly the different levels. Also, when at all possible, judges will not be placed in a position that might be viewed as a conflict of interest in terms of the students that they are judging. For example, teachers acting as judges shall not judge students from their own school. Judges will mainly be adults with a background in science but senior science students may also be used to judge projects in the Elementary division.

(a) Judging will be completed by a panel of judges selected by the Simcoe County Regional Science Fair Committee.

(b) Exhibits will be judged according to the following criteria:

Scientific Thought – this is the most important!
Originality and Creativity

See the Judging Rubric

(c) All judging decisions will be reviewed by the Committee elected Head Judge before they are made final. The Head Judge (in consultation with the Committee Chair, Committee Vice-Chair and Ethics Director) reserves the right to amend the judges decisions.

8. Canada Wide Science Fair Entrants

A maximum of seven students will be chosen from the Junior, Intermediate, and Senior categories only to represent Simcoe County at the Canada Wide Science Fair.

Elementary students are not eligible.