Rules & Guidelines

The Science and Engineering Fair of Houston is aligned to the Texas Science and Engineering Fair of Houston as well as Intel ISEF to ensure a smooth vertical transition between fair competitions. Please view the International Rules & Guidelines as well as the additional documents.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.

Rule Changes & Modifications 2017-2018

Please review the Changes & Clarifications 2018 Intel ISEF Rules and Guidelines document for futher details that affect science fair projects for the regional, state, and international competitions.


Projects which involve “human” studies need to be reviewed and approved by a properly constituted school or district IRB prior to any project experimentation. This places a lot of responsibility on local IRB’s when they complete Human Subject Form (4). After the IRB has approved the project and all committee members have signed this form, the student may begin recruiting and/or interacting with human subjects for the project. Local IRB’s should carefully study the Human Subject Rules and Guidelines before reviewing any student forms. When the project is submitted to SEFH it will be reviewed by the SRC for approval. If further information is needed the SRC will contact the student to obtain appropriate documentation.

REMEMBER that each project will be inspected by both our SRC and Rules and Safety Committee on the evening prior to judging for compliance with the ISEF/SEFH Rules and Guidelines, and if the project is not approved by both of these committees, it will (as in previous years) be disqualified for participation in the fair. Some districts may decide to establish their own project review protocol (in addition to those for SEFH) for all projects that may be eligible for entry to SEFH.​

On the Student Checklist (1A), the ACTUAL Start Date and the ACTUAL End Date will need to be completed by the student when the project is actually started and ended and not at the time of approval.

All studies involving the use of microorganisms (including bacteria, viruses, viroids, prions, rickettesia, fungi and parasites), recombinant DNA technologies, and human or animal fresh tissues, blood or body fluids require pre-approval by the SRC (possible exceptions to this ruling can be found at A Risk Assessment is also required for these projects. And, studies in these areas of research are prohibited in a home environment. Pay close attention to the BSL requirements for these types of projects.