Frequently Asked Questions

Your FIRST LEGO League Robotics project is an engineering project that can be entered in the Intel Northwest Science Expo! More than likely, you have used engineering goals and the development process to make your robot complete the missions for the FLL Challenge for this year.

Goals of Engineering (From the Student Handbook for Pre-college Science & Engineering Projects, 2005-2006 Edition):

An engineering project should state the engineering goals, the development process, and the evaluation of improvements. Engineering projects may include the following steps:

  1. Define a need.
  2. Develop design criteria.
  3. Search literature to see what has already been done.
  4. Prepare preliminary designs.
  5. Build and test a prototype.
  6. Retest and redesign as necessary.


Figuring out how your project follows the engineering goals is as easy as answering a few questions. You may not need to answer all of the questions, and you may find other questions that need to be answered, but these are a guideline.

  • What is the need?
    • What does your robot need to accomplish?
    • What are the limitations (size, weight, power, building materials)?
  • What are your design criteria? How should your robot accomplish these things?
    • How is it accomplished by programming?
    • How is it accomplished by building a particular part of your robot?
    • How did this particular mission solution fit into your overall design for the robot?
  • What has already been done? Did you do any literature searching?
    • Did you base your robot on examples found elsewhere?
    • What examples are these?
    • How did you improve on them?
  • Did you test, evaluate, and redesign your robot?
    • When you made your robot, what early designs did you try?
    • What worked and didn’t work?
    • Why did you change the design?
    • How did you change the design?
    • Did the design changes work?
    • How did all your design changes interact to make your final robot?


Prototype: A working model used to demonstrate and test some aspect of the design or the design as a whole. A prototype is produced before the final version. So your early designs of your LEGO robot are all considered prototypes, while your competition design is your final version.

Your project can focus on your robot’s physical characteristics, or on its programming, or on both. You can choose to focus on solving one or two particular missions, or you can focus on how your robot solved all the missions in the challenge. One of the things you need to keep in mind, however, is that the judges will have a limited amount of time to see what you’ve done, so you may want to concentrate your science fair project and display to one part of your robot that really shows the effort and innovation of your team!

You should enter your project in the Engineering category. For middle school team size does not matter. For high school students, ISEF caps team size at three.

If any of your team is in the 9th grade or higher, you must enter your project in the High School division, otherwise your team competes in the Middle School division.

Since the project is a group effort, everyone on the team must agree that it can be entered in the science fair. At least two of your team must be willing to come to the Intel NWSE to compete in the judge interviews. Quite a bit of the judging criteria deals with teamwork, so the more members of your team who participate in judging, the better your scores will be.

Any student in grades 5-8 who is attending a school in Oregon or Vancouver, Washington is invited to present their projects at the Intel NWSE. Home school students are welcome. High School students must qualify for the Intel NWSE through a regional fair.

For more: Detailed Eligibility Information
Regional Fair Boundaries

Students may present science or engineering projects in the areas of the natural sciences, the social sciences, mathematics, or computer science. Each project will be entered into a category. While the student must conduct the work, the student may enlist the advice of a mentor. NWSES fairs are for EXPERIMENTAL research ONLY . Students need to pose a research question and gather the data to answer it. This may include research that is descriptive and pattern seeking if the student collects the data. Or it may include asking an original question that is answered using statistics gathered by other than the student. Modeling projects are allowed if the model is used to answer an experimental research question, the structure of the model is explained and the model is tested.

For More: Middle and High School Categories

A maximum of 3 students may work on a project. If a larger group worked on a project for another competion, a subset of that group may present only the components they worked on.

For more: Team Projects

Yes! Home school students are welcome at regional and state fairs. They follow the same rules as all other participants.

The Intel NWSE is an Intel International Science and Engineering Fair affiliated scientific research competition for Oregon and Clark County Washington students. It is a project of the Center for Science Education at PSU. At Intel NWSE students present a science research project they have completed within the last year in poster form. Students are also interviewed by judges.

For more: About Intel NWSE

The NWSES or Northwest Science Expo System includes Intel ISEF-affiliated fairs in Oregon that cooperate to maximize student opportunities for student research presentations and participation in the Intel ISEF. Intel NWSE is the state level fair. The other fairs in the system are referred to as regional fairs.

For more: About NWSES

Regional fairs are the qualifying events for the high school state fair. Some regional fairs serve several counties and some serve only one school. Some regional fairs include high school and middle school; some only high school. Registration for regional fairs occurs in the online registration system at First determine which Regional Fair to attend. All HS students are required to qualify for Intel NWSE through a Regional Fair.

For more: Regional Fair Boundaries

Regional Fair List

Online Registration

High school students MUST attend a Regional Fair to qualify for Intel NWSE. Since not all Regional Fairs accept Middle school students, they may attend Intel NWSE without qualifying at a regional fair.

Primarily we use email and this website. We send out updates and reminders of important dates during the school year.  RSS feeds are available for some website content.

700-800 students participate in the Intel NWSE every year.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is a week-long research competition and exhibition for high school age students from all over the world. Over 1200 students, representing 50 countries, compete in the annual event that is held each spring. They compete for awards and prizes including scholarships, tuition grants, internships, scientific field trips and the grand prize: a trip to attend the Nobel Prize Ceremonies in Stockholm, Sweden. Students qualify to attend Intel ISEF by winning an ISEF-affiliated fair in their local area.

Each year the Intel NWSE sends the top 6 high school projects to compete at Intel ISEF.  Best of fair winners from each of the regional fairs also attend.

All project registrations are due by February 27, 2013 or earlier depending on your regional fair. No projects will be accepted for competition after February 27, 2013 . Online registration is required for all projects.

Copies of all paperwork need to be mailed to your fair so the signatures can be checked and the Scientific Review Committee can review the project for safety. The original signed forms need to remain with the student's project and must be brought to the fair during setup.

If you are not registered online, you can not attend Intel NWSE. In addition those directly entering Intel NWSE must have their paperwork postmarked by February 27th. We will not accept paperwork after that date unless the project is qualifying through a Regional Fair.

One packet from each school needs to be sent to your fair. The packet must include:

  • School Registration Form
  • Student Packets (AFOR Registration Form, ISEF Forms, AFOR Abstract Form)
  • Registration Fees if required.

*Middle School Students following the Super EZ Rules need only turn in the Super EZ form and project procedures.

For more:

Forms Wizard

Student Registration

If you are competing at a Regional Fair, your paperwork needs to be sent directly there. The address is on the School Registration Form when printed from AFOR. Regional Fair Director contact info can be found on the Regional Fairs List page.

Middle school registrations for Intel NWSE can be mailed to the address on the left of this page in the Contact Intel NWSE box.

Our system is not designed to register both age groups through the same login. A second adult sponsor or email address will be needed. If your organization has both age groups contact Stephanie Jones at for assistance.

First, log in with your old email address and password. Next, click on "edit contact information." Then click on the "change my email address" link. Enter your new email twice and click "update email." You will then receive an email from the system at your new email address. It will include a link you must click on to activate your new address. If you don't receive the email within an hour, check your spam folder or contact us for help.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader version 7 or higher to print the ISEF forms from the registration site.
Pop-Up blockers need to be disabled in order to print.
Many online service providers (AOL, MSN, etc) and search engine toolbars such as Google and Yahoo, have automatic pop-up blockers. You will need to turn them off or add the registration site to your trusted sites. For the Google toolbar go to the registration site and click the icon showing the number of blocked sites.
We recommend reading the pdf version carefully before printing in case any information did not get transferred. Please let us know if you see this problem.

Mac Issues

You need Acrobat Reader 7 or higher and your browser and network must allow downloads to happen. The process will actually create files on your desktop. If you are having a problem, delete the Reader and reinstall it accepting the defaults.
These files may not appear correctly when viewed by Preview under MacOS X. To open the files with Acrobat Reader, find the file in your Download folder (default is desktop), and hold down the control key when you click on it. Select Open With... and select Acrobat Reader.

IMPORTANT: The receiving of forms is what determines the fee. All projects must be online. Do not send a check first.

2020 Fee Schedule:
Projects emailed or postmarked by February 13 are $5.
Projects emailed or postmarked between February 14 and February 27 are $10.
Projects emailed or postmarked between February 28 and March 5 are $15.
Projects emailed or postmarked on or after March 6 are $20 per project.
The final deadline is March 12th. No projects will be accepted after that date. 

For a project to count as registered the correct forms for the project must be received. Required forms are either a signed MS Super EZ form and project procedures OR appropriate ISEF forms and procedures. Those emailing forms can wait until all projects have been sent before mailing a single check. Please inform Stephanie if an invoice is required.

Email with the forms clumped together by exhibit number. If your copy machine can scan and combine into one file that is fine as long as a project's EZ form and procedures are on consecutive pages. If you have to send separate files for forms and procedures make sure the procedures are labeled with the exhibit number. Also please make sure scans are right side up. 

The NWSES Rulebook explains the rules governing student research. More information is available from ISEF website. All high school projects must follow these rules.

Middle school projects are eligible to use the NWSES Middle School Rules.

For more:

NWSES Rulebook

Students whose research involves human subjects, including administering surveys or questionnaires, must have their projects approved by an IRB before beginning experimentation. An IRB consists of 3 or more members with certain qualifications. There are many rules and guidelines for projects with human subjects.

For more:

ISEF Rules for projects with human subjects

ISEF Human Subjects Risk Assessment Guidelines (pdf)

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee that, according to federal law, must evaluate the potential physical or psychological risk of research involving human subjects. All proposed human research must be reviewed and approved by an IRB before experimentation begins. This includes any surveys or questionnaires to be used in a project. If a project involves human subjects, the student must submit his or her plans to an IRB and fill out additional forms. BEFORE BEGINNING EXPERIMENTATION READ THE RULES.

For more:

ISEF Rules for projects with human subjects

ISEF Human Subjects Risk Assessment Guidelines (pdf)

A Scientific Review Committee (SRC) reviews and approves research projects. An SRC examines projects for the following:

  • Type and amount of supervision
  • Use of accepted research techniques
  • Completed forms and signatures
  • Compliance with rules and laws governing human and animals research
  • Appropriate use of recombinant DNA, pathogenic organisms, tissues and controlled substances.

An SRC consists of 3 or more members with certain qualifications.

For more:

Adults Invloved (NWSES Rulebook)
Intel ISEF SRC 101 PowerPoint Presentation

All projects submitted to Intel NWSE will be reviewed by the NWSE SRC. This review will take place after experimentation and after your project's paperwork is received by the fair. Some projects require you to arrange for SRC approval before experimentation begins by forming your own local SRC.

Examples of SRC worksheets are in the Document Library.

High school students with projects involving non-human vertebrates, pathogenic agents, controlled substances, recombinant DNA, and/or human or animal tissue must be reviewed by an SRC before experimentation begins.

Intel NWSE is ONLY for EXPERIMENTAL research. Students need to pose a research question and gather the data to answer it. Students must also carefully follow the rules governing human and animal subjects, pathogenic agents, controlled substances, recombinant DNA, and human animal tissue. Certain projects are against the rules. See the ISEF rules for the most current information.

No, a parent or guardian must sign Form 1B unless the student is emancipated from his parents.

Formulating the ideas for a project can happen at anytime, however for High School students EXPERIMENTATION CANNOT begin until the appropriate forms are filled out. Also, research must be completed in a one year period. For any projects hoping to compete at the International fair we recommend using the second week in May as your end date. For Middle School students using the NWSES Middle School Rules, experimentation can begin at anytime.

For more: NWSES Rulebook

Middle School Rules

Yes, but students will be judged only on the most recent year's research. Additional rules apply to projects continued from a previous year.

For more: Mulit-year Projects

At a minimum, a parent of a high school student must sign a form (1B) giving their approval of the project BEFORE experimentation/data collection starts. Any further role for the parent depends on the student, the parent and the project. Parents can also be adult sponsors or mentors depending on their area of expertise. There is always a concern that the project is the parent's, not the student's. The most important thing is that the student is learning science and engineering problem solving.  Judges will look for the total creative input of the student.  In all cases, the student should understand and be able to discuss all aspects of the project. Projects that are so technical that creative input and understanding aren't possible for the particular student really aren't appropriate.

You must submit your abstract by the due date. At the end of your abstract, make note that you are not done collecting data and therefore have no results at this time. As your abstract is the first thing that the judges see this might be a disadvantage, but it is better than not having an abstract for judges to preview.

For more: Look for Abstracts under Parts of the Exhibit

The Intel International Science and Engineering website has a Student Handbook that has help with all aspects of doing a project. More helpful advice from former science fair participants is available on ISEF's Tips and Advice page. More information for students, like the High School Student Checklist, which will lead you through the process of getting ready for the fair, is available in the "For Students" section of this website.

Look carefully at the list of subcategories under each category.

Use a title that clearly fits within a category or subcategory.

Write an abstract that clearly states what the scientific question or engineering goals are and what methods are used to answer them.

When an organism is used, give both a scientific name and a common name.

Think of five “key words” that are important to the project. These key words should relate to a category and subcategory.

Please contact Dr. Linda Mantel, Executive Director of NWSES, at or 503-725-4221.

Winners are announced for first, second, third place and honorable mention (for middle school) for each category; best of fair; ISEF finalist (for high school) and special awards. Scholarships from PSU, OSU, U of O, and Lewis and Clark College have been awarded in the past.

They forfeit their registration fee and chance to win. Each project must have a student there to talk to the judges. It is best students know this ahead of time when beginning to prepare for Intel NWSE.

Regulations regarding displays and pictures of Intel NWSE project displays are available on this website.

For more: Display and Safety Regulations (NWSES Rulebook)

Judging (5)

Intel NWSE Judges are drawn from local businesses, academia and government agencies. The most important qualification for any judge is the willingness to commit the time and energy to honor the hard work of the students and to encourage their further interest in science, math and engineering. High school category judges have advanced degrees and research or design experience in the category that they are judging. Category Awards are based on the decision of teams of no fewer than 3 judges. Judges for Special Awards often come from the organization sponsoring the award. All judges are volunteers who's highest priority is to encourage students and honor their hard work.

Judges devote most of a day to evaluating student work. First they examine written abstracts and display boards without students being present. Then they interview students - this is the heart of the process and the interaction between the professional judges and students is what makes Intel NWSE special. Most judges are at the fair from 7:30 AM - 3:00 PM.

The most important factor in judging is how well scientific and engineering processes are applied in the project. Judges look for well thought-out research and students who can discuss their work with confidence.

For more:

How are projects judged (NWSES Rulebook)

Judging Criteria

Since the judges have already reviewed your poster and abstract, they may ask you questions that clarify the information in them or for a general overview of your project. Judges are not interested in memorized speeches, but simply want to talk with students about their projects. Students should be prepared to communicate their work with enthusiasm.

Though students should not memorize a formal speech, students should think about how they want to present their projects and practice out loud. Practice talking about a project will help the student feel more comfortable. Often a judge will begin an interview by introducing his or her self and saying "So, tell me about your project." Students will have a much less difficult time answering this question if they have thought about their answer in advance.

© 2008 Northwest Science Expo System

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