As a science fair affiliated with the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), we follow their rules and requirements.
The purpose of these rules is to:
- Protect the rights and welfare of the student researcher
- Protect the rights and welfare of human participants
- Protect the health and welfare of vertebrate animal subjects
- Ensure adherence to federal regulations
- Ensure use of safe laboratory practices
- Protect environment
- Determine eligibility for competition in the Intel ISEF (grades 9-12) or Broadcom MASTERS (grades 6-8)
All projects that participate in TCRSF require prior approval from a parent/legal guardian and an adult sponsor.
Additionally, the adult sponsor must verify (prior to experimentation) that the project meets the ISEF rules as well as federal, state, and local laws.
The SRC process is used to document that prior approval and review. There are two type of projects,
a.) those that require a scientific review (with appropriate forms) before experimentation, are a continuation project, or were conducted in a Regulated Research Institution,
and b.) those that only require approval from a parent/legal guardian and an adult sponsor.
The key factors to the scientific review requirement is if the project contains any of the following: Humans,
Vertebrate Animals, or Potential Hazardous Biological Agents (PHBA) such as Microorganisms, rDNA, and/or tissues.
There are 2 options available for SRC forms detailed below. The initial registration form includes a question about which option is being selected,
so that selection should be determined before starting the registration process.
This can be changed later if needed.
EZ SRC Details - Available only for projects that do not require a prior scientific review
This option is not available of the project requires forms 1C, 2, 4, 5A, 5B, 6A, 6B, or 7
Typically, projects that do not require a scientific review consist of ISEF forms (1, 1A, and 1B), a research plan, an abstract, and a form set for permission from a
parent/legal guardian to participate in the fair.
The ISEF Forms 1, 1A, and 1B are now combined electronically with the fair registration questionnaire. ISEF SRC Form 1 is a great checklist and must be reviewed
by the adult sponsor before experimentation,
however, these forms are not required for TCRSF (for this type of project registration). The adult sponsor is provided a web site login to review, approve,
and electronically sign the Form 1 for all students represented by that adult sponsor.
There is a single signed authorization form for all students and parental authorizations for the fair.
After registering for the fair online, the student prints the single authorization form (called the TCRSF form 1D).
Form 1D covers Form 1B risk assessment, permission to attend the fair, liability release, ethic and rules declaration, media release, and pre-approval dates.
The student and parent sign this form and sent via US mail.
This form has the student information printed on the top. Do not write, mark, or change the top of the form in any way. Failure to provide a clean copy of this
form will disqualify the project from the competition.
Every project must have an original research plan. At registration time, the student has 2 options:
- Add a research plan summary section to the end of the original research plan. This summary should contain what changed from the original plan.
If nothing changed, simple state nothing changed in the plan. The updated plan should be saved in PDF format and uploaded to the web site.
A Research Plan Template is available for the students to download and complete. It contains the major topic headers
and appropriate instructions regarding what belongs in each section of the research plan. It should be filled in from the original research plan.
The template is in Microsoft Word format. After the student completes the research plan (using the included instructions),
it can be saved from Word as a PDF and uploaded to the web site.
The research plan summary is not a results section. It does not contain data. It simply states what was performed differently from the original research plan.
Often research plans are modified after preliminary results. This section documents what was actually done.
Each project and each research paper is required to submit the abstract text electronically. Abstract documents will not be accepted.
TCRSF generates an appropriate abstract document similar to the way ISEF generates abstracts.
This TCRSF generated abstract is available for the students to print and use at the project.
In summary, the only physical piece of paper that must be printed and signed is the TCRSF Form 1D (for these projects that do not require prior scientific review). Be sure to see
the Risk Assessment section below which may indicate the requirement for one additional form, Risk Assessment Form 3.
Standard SRC Details - For projects that require a prior scientific review or prefer standard forms
The TCRSF Form 1D (described in EZ SRC Details) is still required.
The Research Plan is handled in the same way as described in EZ SRC Details (it must be uploaded electronically). The student may upload their own research plan rather than a completed template as long as
all the important questions are answered. This must be in PDF format.
Each student (or student team leader) is required to submit the abstract text electronically as described in EZ SRC Details.
The all ISEF forms and supporting documentation are sent by US mail with the TCRSF Form 1D on top.
Even though all forms are sent via US mail, there still is one small electronic SRC worksheet that must be entered online. This worksheet identifies which ISEF forms you are sending,
key information, and the dates on those forms. This is important to allowing SRC readers to electronically pre-screen your SRC review (while reading the uploaded Research Plan) and provide faster feedback before the forms actually arrive.
Risk Assessment - required for all projects including EZ SRC projects
The research plan is required to have a section on Risk and Safety. This is included in the research plan template that can be downloaded from TCRSF and in the ISEF instructions for a research plan.
This section identifies any potential risks and safety precautions needed. Any activity that the student performs that can be interpreted by a reviewer as outside the normal daily activity and
experience of the typical student must be identified and the methods of reducing the risk identified. Restated, if the student is exposed to hazardous chemicals, activities and/or devices,
the research plan must describe the risk assessment process, supervision, safety precautions and methods of disposal.
Be aware that power tools are often classified as risky for the typical student. Include how that is handled in the discussion.
If there are not risks, simply state there are no identified risks.
If necessary, Form 3 is used to document the risk assessment. Form 3 is required for projects involving protists, archae and similar microorganisms, for projects using manure for composting,
fuel production or other non-culturing experiments, for projects using color change coliform water test kits,
microbial fuel cells, and for projects involving decomposing vertebrate organisms.