Display and Safety Regulations

Virtual slide decks have different rules for size, no font should be smaller than 12pt on a slide deck. School names, acknowledgements and photos of people (other than student and family) not in the public realm are not allowed.

The following are for in person fairs.

Middle School Display Regulations
The poster is the first thing the judges see when they review your project. It is important to do your best and organize your information in a clear way. All exhibits need to have their MS Super EZ form and project procedures, either posted or in a lab notebook. The lab notebook can also hold additional graphs and data tables.

Size Requirement:
15 inches (38 centimeters) deep This is half the depth of a table
36 inches (91 centimeters) wide
74 inches (188 centimeters) high from top of table

Please note: a standard 4ft display board will fit nicely in this space. Also the goal of the science expo is to talk about what you have done, not recreate it.

Very Important Middle School displays can only have paper items attached to the poster board, items that do not fit on the poster may be placed in a binder to sit in front of the poster.  Do not decorate your poster with food, machine parts, glass, clay models etc. those things will be removed or covered.

Acknowledgments to specific people or organizations or School names are not allowed on the poster. Acknowledgments may be included in the notebook.

Allowed with restrictions:
Photographs- you must have permission to post a person’s picture or make the person unidentifiable. You must also list the primary source of any photographs. If you are using pictures obtained from the internet, make sure to list the actual url, not a site that gathers images.

High School Display Regulations

Maximum Size of Project

Depth (front to back): 30 inches or 76 centimeters

Width (side to side): 48 inches or 122 centimeters

Height (floor to top): 108 inches or 274 centimeters

Please be aware when ordering posters that the mechanism supporting the poster should conform to the maximum size limitations stated above. In my opinion, tall posters are hard for judges to read, a notebook with additional information is better.

Forms Required to be Visible at the Project Booth

The placement of the required forms may include taped to the table, the display board, or in a free-standing acrylic frame placed on the table top.

Forms required at all projects:

1. An Abstract which matches that posted online. If not an exact match it should be called Summary.

Additional Forms required (only when applicable):

1. Regulated Research Institutional/Industrial Setting Form (1C)

  • a. If work was conducted in a regulated research institution, industrial setting or any work site other than home, school or field at any time during the current ISEF project year, the Regulated Research Institutional/Industrial Setting Form (1C) must be completed and both pages vertically displayed (single-sided) at the project booth.
  • b. The information provided by the mentor on Form 1C may be referenced to confirm that the information provided on the project board is that of the finalist. Only minimal reference to a mentor’s or another researcher’s work is allowable and must only reflect background information or be used to clarify differences between finalist’s and others’ work

2. Continuation/Research Progression Projects Form (7)

  • a. If a study is a continuation/research progression, the Continuation/Research Progression Projects Form (7) must be completed and vertically displayed at the project booth.
  • b. The display board and abstract must reflect only the current year’s work. The project title displayed in the finalist’s booth may mention years of continuing research (for example, “Year Two of an Ongoing Study”).
  • c. Reference to past work on the display board must be limited to summative past conclusory data and its comparison to the current year data set. No raw data from previous years may be publicly displayed; however, it may be included in the student research notebooks and/or logbooks if properly labeled.

Forms Required at Project but not Displayed

1. Forms, excluding those listed above, that were required for the Scientific Review Committee approval should not be vertically displayed, but must be available in the booth in case asked for by a judge or other fair official. These forms include, but are not limited to, Checklist for Adult Sponsor (1), Student Checklist (1A), Research Plan, Approval Form (1B), and a photograph/video release form.

2. A photograph/video release form signed by the subject is required for visual images of humans (other than the finalist) displayed as part of the project.

Forms NOT to be at the Project Display Booth or in the Exhibit Hall

Completed informed consent/assent forms for a human participant study are NOT to be displayed and should NOT be present at the project display. The Student may include a sample (incomplete) form in their logbook or research notebook but under NO CIRCUMSTANCE should the completed informed consent/assent forms for a human participant be in the Exhibit Hall.

Photograph/Image Display Requirements

1. Any photograph/visual image/chart/table and/or graph is allowed if:

  • a. It is not deemed offensive or inappropriate by the Scientific Review Committee, Display & Safety Committee or Society for Science (including, but not limited to images/photographs showing invertebrate or vertebrate animals/humans in surgical, necrotizing or dissection situations).
  • b. It has a credit line of origin (“Photograph taken by…” or “Image taken from…” or “Graph/Chart/Table taken from…”). If all images, etc. displayed were created by the finalist or are from the same source, one credit line prominently and vertically displayed on the backboard/ poster or tabletop is sufficient. All images MUST BE properly cited (digital object identifiers are acceptable in place of long URLs). This includes background graphics, photographs and/or visual depictions of the finalist or photographs and/or visual depictions of others for which a signed photo/video release form is in a notebook or logbook at the project booth. These signed release forms must be available upon request during the set-up and inspection process, but may not be displayed.
  • c. Sample release text: “I consent to the use of visual images (photos, videos, etc.) involving my participation/my child’s participation in this research.”

2. Students using any presentation or demonstration (physical or digital) outside of a project board must be prepared to show the entire presentation to the Display Inspectors before the project is approved. All aforementioned rules apply to this presentation and the presentation may not be altered in any way after the inspection. Examples of presentations that require approval include, but are not limited to PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote, software program/simulation and other images and/or graphics displayed on a computer screen or other non-print delivery method. However the judges want to spend their interview time asking questions, not watching a presentation.

Items/Materials Not Allowed on Display or at Project Booth

1. Any information on the project display or items that are self-promotions or external endorsements are not allowed in the project booth

  • The use of commercial logos including known brands, institutional crests or trademarks, flags unless integral to the project and approved by the SRC.
  • Any reference to an institution or mentor that supported the finalist’s research except as provided in an acknowledgement section of the poster and within official ISEF paperwork, most notably Form 1C.
  • Any reference to patent status of the project.
  • Any items intended for distribution such as disks, CDs, flash drives, brochures, booklets, endorsements, give-away items, business cards, printed materials or food items designed to be distributed to judges or the public.

2. Any awards or medals.

3. Postal addresses, World Wide Web, email and/or social media addresses, QR codes, telephone and/or fax numbers of a project or student.

4. Active Internet or email connections as part of displaying or operating the project.

5. Any changes, modifications, or additions to projects including any attempt to uncover, replenish or return removed language or items after approval is prohibited.

6. School name is not to be on the poster or prominently displayed on other materials.


Not Allowed at Project or Booth

Note: In the case in which a Student’s Project includes an item that is prohibited from display, please take photographs documenting the significance of the prohibited item.

1. Living organisms, including plants
2. Glass
3. Soil, sand, rock, cement and/or waste samples, even if permanently encased in a slab of acrylic
4. Taxidermy specimens or parts
5. Preserved vertebrate or invertebrate animals
6. Human or animal food
7. Human/animal parts or body fluids (for example, blood, urine)
8. Plant materials (living, dead, or preserved) that are in their raw, unprocessed, or non manufactured state
9. All chemicals including water. Absolutely no liquids can be utilized in the Project Display
10. All hazardous substances or devices (Example: poisons, drugs, firearms, weapons, ammunition, reloading devices, grease/oil and sublimating solids such as dry ice)
11. Items that may have contained or been in contact with hazardous chemicals (Exception: Item may be permitted if professionally cleaned and documentation for such cleaning is available). Filters (including microbial) may not be displayed unless the Display Checker can reasonably determine that the device was cleaned or was never used (please include receipts in your notebooks and/or logbooks)
12. Sharp items (for example, syringes, needles, pipettes, knives)
13. Flames and highly flammable materials
14. Batteries with open-top cells or wet cells; no battery may be left in the exhibit hall overnight
15. Drones or any flight-capable apparatus unless the propulsion power source removed
16. 3D Printers unless the power source is removed
17. Inadequately insulated apparatus capable of producing dangerous temperatures are not permitted
18. Any apparatus with belts, pulleys, chains, or moving parts with tension or pinch points that are not appropriately shielded
19. Any display items that are deemed distracting (i.e. sounds, lights, odors, etc.)
20. Handheld lasers, mounted lasers either magnified or unlabeled or above Class 2.

Electrical Regulations
Due to limited electrical outlets, NWSE requires all students wishing electricity to apply for it through online registration. Those requesting electricity will be sent an email requiring response for electrical approval. Requests to light exhibits or display PowerPoint presentations will be denied. Be aware that many times asking for electricity means you will not be with the rest of your category. Not being with your category is a disadvantage during judging.

  • Exhibitors requiring 120 Volt A.C. electrical circuits must provide a UL-listed 3-wire extension cord (no more than 9 ft in length) which is appropriate for the load and equipment.
  • Electrical connections in 110-volt circuits must be soldered or made with UL-approved connectors. Wires must be insulated. Maximums are 500 watts @ 130VAC/60 Hz
  • High voltage (over 12 volts) equipment must be shielded with a grounded metal box or cage. High voltage wiring, switches and metal parts must have adequate insulation and overload safety factors and be inaccessible to others.
  • There must be an accessible, clearly visible on/off switch or other means of disconnect from the 120 Volt power source.
  • Wiring which is not part of a commercially available UL-listed appliance or piece of equipment must have a fuse or circuit breaker on the supply side of the power source and prior to any project equipment.
  • Bare wire and exposed knife switches may be used only in circuits of 12 volts or less; otherwise, standard enclosed switches are required.

High school display rules are adapted from https://www.societyforscience.org/isef/international-rules/display-safety-rules/ students who qualify as finalists need to review the complete ISEF rules.