Help for Parents & Teachers

Every project must have an Adult Sponsor. The Adult Sponsor can be a parent, teacher, or mentor. The Adult Sponsor is responsible for helping complete required forms, registering the project online, mailing the paperwork to the appropriate fair, and distributing fair communications to the student (i.e. someone who checks email frequently).

The first job of the Adult Sponsor is to register him or herself, enter the student’s organization and select one of the Northwest Science Expo System fairs. The Gresham Barlow Science Expo is the fair for high school students not in an area listed as belonging to another fair. Check the Regional Fair Boundaries Map to determine which regional fair you should register for.

After the Adult Sponsor adds a project, the system automatically assigns it an Exhibit Number. The student can then use the Exhibit Number and password to complete the required forms for the project.

Form Warning: High school students are required to use the ISEF rules. Most forms need to be signed before experimentation has started. The Forms Wizard will help you determine what additional forms are needed.

Copies of all required forms must be uploaded using a Google Folder in online registration by that fair’s deadline. Any required fees should be mailed with the School Registration form before the fair. If in doubt, ask for help. Find contact info for each regional fair director on that individual regional fair’s page.

Middle School Super EZ process: Students in 5- 8th grade should be encouraged to design projects that meet the Middle School Super EZ rules. Those that don’t must use the ISEF forms and gain SRC approval before experimentation. Contact Stephanie if you are not sure about science fair participation at your school.

Science Projects at home: a guide for parents of 5-8th graders

Doing projects at home is a balancing act, your child needs to be the creator of the project, but will need guidance on what is practical and allowed to do according to the rules.

Questions, Problems and Interests

Projects work best when the student can figure out a question to answer or problem to solve. What is your child interested in? Does she like programming robots? Does he enjoy cooking? Some problems do not have a scientific solution, i.e. My brother bugs me. Others like “I want to pop every kernel of popcorn in the bag” can be explored through testing. 

The absolutely worst way to find a science project idea is to Google it.

Rules and Safety

The Northwest Science Expo System has developed rules specifically for middle school students. Normally all projects involving human subjects, microbes, and animals must have advanced approval from a committee at school. By following the MS Super EZ rules some types of projects involving these topics are allowed.

Some projects in physics and engineering require the use of power tools. We trust the parent to decide if it is an item that the student can safely use, or if direct supervision or a parent does that part of the project. These decisions should be documented as a Safety Assessment at the end of the project procedures. 

Forms and Procedures 

Every student following the MS Super EZ rules requires an MSEZ form. The form is completed in online registration (AFOR) and then printed to have the student, parent and adult sponsor acknowledge the rules. A parent can sign as the adult sponsor. Once signed the MSEZ form is uploaded to a Google Folder shared in AFOR. 

Project procedures need to be typed using Google Docs or Word and shared. These will be reviewed by both fair staff and judges. Procedures need to be complete enough that someone else could complete the experiment. Think of this as a recipe, an ingredient list followed by directions. 

Title of project: The Best Cookies Ever*

Materials: ½ tsp salt, 3 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda

1 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 4 cups chocolate chips


  1. Mix the 1st 3 ingredients together and set aside.
  2. In a second bowl mix butter and sugar until creamy.
  3. Add eggs to sugar mixture and beat. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Slowly mix dry ingredients from the first bowl into wet ingredients.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips
  6. Use a medium cookie scoop to place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Safety: Use a hot pad when removing from the oven.

Bibliography:  (optional, but doesn’t need to be on the poster if it is here)

Betty Crocker Cookbook

*while baking projects are allowed, changing an ingredient between trials makes for a stronger project. Comparisons can not use taste as a factor though. I made up this recipe, I doubt they are the best ever.

Engineering projects may have procedures like “program the robot using Raspberry Pi” the code doesn’t need to be included. 

Online Registration

Do start by asking your child’s science teacher if the school plans on participating at NWSE. NWSE MS has a strict 14 project limit per middle school. Teachers are given priority for registration. Stephanie Jones also knows which schools have participated in prior years.