Eligibility & Rules

Eligibility

All students younger than 20 years old who attend school in Santa Clara County in grades 6–12 are eligible to enter (if they have not competed in any other Intel ISEF-affiliated fair in the same school year).

Homeschooled students who attend home school located in Santa Clara County are eligible to enter, even if they participate in online classes from other locales. Students who attend school in Santa Clara County, and who complete their projects at a Registered Research Institution in another locale are eligible to enter.

A student may participate in only one project. A fee of $20 per student is required or $30 per team.

  • Individual entries—A student may enter one project.
  • Team entries—A team of two or three students may enter one team project. SCVSEFA strongly recommends teams be limited to two students.
  • All projects will be judged for scientific merit using the same criteria regardless of the number of individuals preparing the project.

General Rules

2018 Changes from last year’s rules

  1. The Synopsys Championship is an Intel ISEF affiliated fair. We follow the Intel ISEF Rules and Guidelines and expect all students to read and abide by the following ethics statement: “Scientific fraud and misconduct are not condoned at any level of research or competition. Such practices include plagiarism, forgery, use or presentation of other researcher’s work as one’s own, and fabrication of data. Fraudulent projects will fail to qualify  for competition in the Synopsys Championship and subsequent affiliated fairs. SCVSEFA reserves the right to revoke recognition of a project subsequently found to have been fraudulent.”
    Students who have their projects removed from competition for fraud or misconduct may not enter the Synopsys Championship the following year.
  2. The Application Forms may be completed, saved and printed from the web site. We require the application be submitted by the student’s teacher in its entirety as a single stapled document in page number order, with the completed 8-page Application followed by the Detailed Research Plan and the relevant additional forms.
  3. Additional forms are required for some projects. The ISEF Rules Wizard can help you determine which forms to complete.
  4. The Adult Sponsor Checklist (Form 1 on page 4 of the Application) should be used to ensure that the Application is complete.
  5. Carefully read the web page about Project Types and Minimum Quality Standards. Please adhere to these standards or your project will fail to qualify for competition.
  6. Projects requiring SRC pre-approval before beginning experimentation must be submitted by the appropriate deadlines. Our only deviation from the Intel ISEF Rules is that, for safety reasons, we request that projects involving hazardous chemicals, activities, and devices or regulated substances also seek pre-approval.
  7. Projects that are a continuation of a previous year’s research will require SRC pre-approval. They must involve significant new work and additional paperwork is required (see Form 1A of the Application form). Only the current year’s research may be on the project board.
  8. Projects must comply with all local, state and federal laws as well as SCVSEFA and Intel ISEF Rules. We reserve the right to fail to qualify the project of any student who does not follow these.
  9. For the 2018 Synopsys Championship the research work must be done between Jan. 1, 2017 and March 2018 (with no more than 12 months total time).
  10. All MIDDLE SCHOOL projects (grades 6-8) must be done in the school, home, or field.  No projects will be admitted for work done in a research institution.
  11. HIGH SCHOOL projects (grades 9-12) may be done in a Regulated Research Institution (RRI) such as a university, college, or professional research institution, provided all rules regarding their use are followed.   High school students should list their Teacher/Adult Sponsor as their sponsoring high school teacher.  The RRI project supervisor should be listed as the mentor or qualified scientist.
  12. Science Fair policy for students who should have been judged as RRI, but registered incorrectly and were judged as non-RRI:  There are several possible options: 1) downgrade the Category Award one level, 2) downgrade two levels, or 3) disqualify the student from Category Awards and the State Fair. One option will be chosen by SCVSFA depending on the facts of the case. In addition, other award winners in the same judging team will be upgraded one level as appropriate.
  13. Parent sponsored projects (PSPs) are NOT permitted UNLESS the school does not have any teacher to support the student (high school) or teachers do not support specific grade levels (middle school).
  14. On judging day, students must be present starting at 1:30 PM for high school students and 2:00 PM for middle school students. Students must be present at individual projects to be judged. For team projects, at least one team member must be present to be judged, however judges may reduce project scores if they are not able to confirm that all members of the team contributed appropriately.
  15. For non-RRI projects, projects are judged by grade by Category Judges, however 11th and 12th grade projects may be judged together to improve the quality of judging.

The Student Researcher(s)

Use of a non-school research site or Regulated Research Institute.

Projects done at Regulated Research Institutions (RRI) will be judged for Category Awards with other RRI projects.  Projects done at school or home will be judged against non-RRI projects.

The student researcher is responsible for all aspects of the research project including enlisting the aid of any required supervisory adults (Adult Sponsor, Qualified Scientist, etc.), obtaining necessary approvals (SRC, IRB, etc.), following the Rules & Guidelines of the Synopsys Championship, and performing the experimentation, engineering, data analysis, etc.  High school students should list their Teacher/Adult Sponsor as their sponsoring high school teacher.  The RRI project supervisor should be listed as the mentor or qualified scientist.

Scientific fraud and misconduct are not condoned at any level of research or competition. This includes plagiarism, forgery, use or presentation of other researcher’s work as one’s own, and fabrication of data.  SCVSEFA reserves the right to revoke recognition of a project subsequently found to have been fraudulent. Students who have their projects removed from competition for fraud or misconduct may not enter the Synopsys Championship the following year.  Fraudulent projects will fail to qualify for competition in the Synopsys Championship and the Intel ISEF. Society for Science & the Public reserves the right to revoke recognition of a project subsequently found to have been fraudulent.

Notes about Judging

  1. Students must choose a Category and Field of Study for their project. An accurate choice of the Field of Study increases the likelihood that the project will be assigned to judges who understand and appreciate the project. A science project involves a study, hypothesis and experiment.  An engineering project involves an application, design or device and an engineering goal.

The codes used to assign project numbers may have changed. For more information on Categories, Fields of Study and project numbers, go to the Project Categories page.

  1. For Category Awards, projects will be judged by category in groups of about 8 to 12 projects by a team of at least two judges. Projects are judged with projects from similar fields of study.
  2. Projects done at home, school or in the field (non RRI) continue to be judged by grade and category. Projects (grades 9 to 12 only) done at Regulated Research Institutions (RRI) are judged by category only. (Category judging in the California State Science Fair and Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is also not done by grade).  Awards will be given in four categories. The overall % category awards given remains the same (about 30%) total.