Detailed Rules

Registration FAQs | Projects/Exhibits FAQs | The Research Paper and Abstract FAQs

Registration FAQs

Who May Enter?

Students in grades 6 through 12 may enter if attending a school in the Eastern Section of STANYS. This includes all schools, public and private, and any home-schooled students in the counties of Albany, Columbia, Greene, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, Warren, and Washington.

For eligibility questions, please contact Fair Director, Joan Wagner ([email protected])

Who Needs A Sponsor?

Every student must have a teacher sponsor in the school where he/she is enrolled. Parents, guardians, friends, or any other adult mentor cannot sponsor the student to this fair.

However, any qualified adult may act as a research mentor for the student. This adult sponsor is the person who is directly involved with the student and his/her research and may be a parent. The adult sponsor is responsible for the safety of the student at all times.

Exceptions will be made for home-schooled students.

Who Needs a Chaperone?

All students in the junior division must have a chaperone. A chaperone can supervise up to ten students. No chaperone can supervise more than ten students. Groups larger than ten must have more than one chaperone. The chaperone(s) must be present during setup and from lunch to closing.

Which Projects Need Prior Approval?

The following projects require SRC/IRB approval before research begins.

  • Human subjects (including surveys)

These require just IRB approval but we recommend that schools combine the SRC and IRB into one committee called the SRC/IRB Committee

  • Vertebrate animals
  • Potentially hazardous biological agents
  • rDNA technologies,
  • Human or animal fresh tissues
  • Blood
  • Body fluids
  • Controlled substances, devices, equipment
  • Chemicals (i.e. hazardous, flammable, explosive or highly toxic, carcinogens, mutagens, and all pesticides)
  • Equipment (i.e. welders, lasers, and voltage greater than 220 volts)
  • Firearms
  • Radioactive substances
  • Radiation (i.e. X-ray or nuclear, unshielded ionizing radiation of 100-400 nm wavelength)

To provide for prior approval, each school district is responsible for forming a local review panel.

What is the Registration Fee?

$40.00 for students living in the counties of Albany, Columbia, Greene, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, Warren, and Washington. $50.00 for students outside of these counties.

What Registration Forms Are Required?

See the ISEF Rules Wizard to determine which ISEF forms are required for registration.  A complete list of the current ISEF forms is included for your convenience below.  In addition to the ISEF Forms, the GCRSEF requires that you submit additional forms and documents as part of your registration:

ISEF Forms:

Local Forms:


Can Students Get Help With Their Project?

Sponsors may help in planning and advising, but parents, teachers, or friends may not actually design, conduct or build the project. Abuses of this rule will result in disqualification. All students are expected to be able to answer questions regarding the design and development of every phase of their projects.  

  • A student may not display a group project from a previous competition as an individual project.
  • A research project that is a new phase of a previously entered project must include a copy of the research paper and data from the previous project as well as Forms 1A and 1B. See this website for all rules.
  • All collections must bear a label describing how, where, and when they where assembled and must be protected by safety glass or screen.

When and Where Are the Exhibits Set Up?

Exhibits must be set up in final working order by the exhibitor at the assigned space at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on March 16th, 2024 between 7:45 and 8:30 a.m. Participants will receive more specific directions two weeks before the fair.

Rules Regarding Exhibit Construction and Display

  • Exhibits must not exceed 48” (121.9 cm) from side to side, 30” (76.2 cm) from back to front, and 108” (274 cm) in height (from floor including height of table). 
  • All exhibits will be placed on laboratory tables provided in the exhibit room. For this regional ISEF fair, no poster board can be greater than 72 inches in height since it must be placed on a lab table. Projects with posters larger than this size will be disqualified from the competition.
  • Place your name on the top right corner of the poster board. Do not place your project number on the poster.
  • Place your Lab Notebook by your exhibit poster. This is very important to the judges.
  • One copy of research paper should be placed by the poster. One copy is submitted online through the student registration during the upload window period:  March 6-14, 2024
  • A copy of all submitted forms must be placed in front of poster. Students are to retain all original copies of their forms.
  • A copy of the abstract must be placed in a picture frame by the storyboard. It cannot be on the storyboard. Place remaining 8 copies of your abstract and one copy of your research paper by the storyboard. As a reminder one of the ten copies of your abstract is submitted at registration.
  • A Project Card Number and holder will be provided at each station to be clipped to the top center of the poster so the project number is clearly in view. The holders with numbers must be returned to the box outside the Sage Auditorium before going to the awards ceremony.
  • NEW FOR 2023:  Acknowledgements on the project display are no longer prohibited; in alignment with the ISEF ethics statement, students may recognize those that have supported their work in a section on the display.  2. Student-created logos are to be properly credited within the photograph/image display requirements but are no longer restricted to one instance on the display.
  • Posters displaying research results must be anchored on a self-contained, free-standing storyboard (supplied by the student) that can be placed at your assigned station. Electronic storyboards are not permitted. Please note, tripods are not provided.
  • Telescopes mounted on tripods must be securely anchored to a wooden or plywood base not larger than 48 in (121.9 cm) by 30 in (76.2 cm) and must not protrude beyond the mounting base.
  • Photographs pertaining to the project are encouraged! Only the student researcher may appear in those photographs unless legal permission is provided. Provide the name of person or organization responsible for each picture. (See Page 25 of ISEF Rules 2023. If the student researcher generated all of the photos, then only one credit line on the poster board or by the poster is needed to acknowledge this.)
  • Any visitor must easily and safely operate animated or push buttons exhibits. Use shields (wire, plastic, or safety glass) around any hot substances. Any exhibit using harmful, poisonous, or explosive materials, or electrical apparatus under potentially dangerous conditions will not be accepted under any circumstances. Read all of the safety rules in the GCRSEF 2023 Brochure 3.9.23.
  • Students are required to keep their exhibits in proper working order at all times.
  • Aquariums, live plants, or live animals are not acceptable.
  • Electric Power: Alternating current (120V or 220V, 60 Hz) will be provided. As battery-powered exhibits are sometimes unsatisfactory, direct current may be supplied from an approved AC or DC converter. Exhibits using electricity must have spring-return switches, operating only when the button is held down. Wiring must conform to the highest standards. Soldered and taped electrical joints properly guard against short circuits. Take no chances for fire or injury. Have your adult sponsor check all wiring! Bring your own UL listed 3-wire extension cord(s), if needed. 
  • If you plan to obtain a patent on your research, make sure to protect your ownership rights. Patent information can be found here:
    United States Patent and Trade Office
    Customer Service: 1-800-786-9199 (toll-free);
    571-272-1000 (local); 571-272-9950 (TTY)

Removal of Exhibits

Projects are to be removed from the exhibit rooms BEFORE the awards ceremony, They can be stored outside the door or returned to your vehicle. 


The planning committee of the Greater Capital Region Science and Engineering Fair and Science Congress reserves the right to disqualify any exhibit on the day of the fair for work that is unsuitable in subject matter or treatment, that is potentially dangerous, or that violates any rules of the fair. Make sure the size of your exhibit fits the rules. Also, exhibits that lack any of the necessary paper work or required signatures will be disqualified.


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, though taking reasonable precautions in protecting exhibits, will not be responsible for broken or missing exhibits or parts. Protect any valuable items with some type of shield. Loose items and any collections must be secured to the exhibit and protected under some type of shield. Students are required to keep their exhibits in proper working order at all times.

The Research Paper and Abstract FAQs

The Research Paper

  • The abstract and research paper are to be uploaded to your registration, through the website, between March 6-14, 2024
  • Bring one copy of your research paper.  This copy of your research paper is to be displayed at your poster.
  • This paper should be typed or word-processed on 8.5” x 11” paper. The recommended length for the senior division is 5 to 10 pages, and 3 to 5 pages for the junior division. Graphs, pictures, and diagrams do not count as written pages.
  • The cover page should contain the title of your project as well as your name and assigned project number. The abstract should follow the cover page and should be no more than 250 words and written on the Official Abstract Form.
  • Bring ten copies of your abstract on the official abstract form. Place one in a frame by your exhibit and submit one online through your registration on the website during the upload period of March 6-14, 2024, and keep the rest with you at your station to hand out to judges the day of the Fair.

The Oral Presentation

You will be required to present a short summary (no longer than 5 minutes) of your research goals, procedure, and conclusions to the judges, which will be followed by questions from the judges.


Judges will walk through the exhibit areas starting at 8:30 a.m. without the students present. The main part of the judging process will begin at 9:30 a.m. All participants must stay at their stations during this time so that they can fulfill the oral part of the presentation. After lunch, the participants will return to their exhibits for additional interviews with the judges.

The decisions of the judges are final and non-reviewable.

Note to Teachers

If you would like to be involved with the Science Fair Planning Committee, please contact Joan Wagner or call (518) 505-7507