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Timeline of Science Fair Competitions

The Timeline

Science fairs typically fall within the school year timeframe with most competitions happening from January to April or even later. In this introduction, we'll explain the timeline of ISEF affiliated fairs which all follow around the same timeline. Find ISEF affiliated fairs using this link.


Summer Time Research

The best time to start your science fair project is right now! Before any schoolwork starts or with the deadline coming up, starting early is critical. Find a research program to attend to like BU Rise, SSP, or at universities near you (you can read about student perspectives of programs here). Make sure you apply or contact researchers early! The earlier you establish a connection, the better. 


Through out the School Year

Don't worry if you start your project during the school year! You still have plenty of time to create a project before your local fair. Doing a project during school time gets tricky as you will need to balance school work with research. You most likely won't have time to do research at a wet lab due to the time demand, although it is definitely possible and depends on your situation. Your best bet is to do a project using data online and you can check out our resources for more information on potential topics! Most importantly, make sure you complete all the forms that your local fairs require. If you don't, you potentially won't be able to compete. Contact your local fair for more information.


Weeks before the local fair

At this stage, you've done the hard work. Maybe you have a few things you need to write up, but most of your project should now be completed. Your task now is completing all the required elements on judge day. This means creating a beautiful poster board displaying your hard work, and printing out your research paper, and anything else that your local fair needs. Make sure you begin practicing giving speeches talking about your project and think of potential questions that judges can ask you!


The week before the local fair

At this point, all work regarding your project should be done. You should have a printed board you can use for the fair and you should focus on presenting well and answering any questions that could appear well. Organize all your materials and get excited to showcase your research!


After the local fair...

Congrats on completing your local fair experience! The next step is to prepare for the state fair and international science and engineering fair (ISEF) if you have qualified. During these few weeks you can continue to work and strengthen your project. However, make sure you follow your state guidelines and check out the ISEF guidelines on how to continue your project after you have qualified. 


Weeks before the State/ISEF competition

As before, continue to improve your project. Print another version of your poster board if needed and check out ISEF regulations on boards and projects. Continue practicing your speech and questions that could come up on competition day. Make sure to take rests and enjoy the process! Most of your hard work is done!


Competition day!

Congratulations on finishing States/ISEF! Your hard work has paid off and now you can relax knowing you've done your best. Have fun making new friends at states and ISEF and enjoy your time while you're there!


Rinse, Wash, Repeat

Congratulations on completing science fair! It's not over yet however! Start preparing for next year by contacting labs, researchers, and thinking of ideas! Starting early ensures success! Make sure to take breaks however!

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