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All experiments are subject to ISEF guidelines, but some require additional paperwork. Copies of required paperwork should be submitted with paid GPHSF registration by November 1 in order to obtain approval before commencing. (Remember: you keep the originals!) Please see the ISEF rules & guidelines for specific guidelines for 6th to 12th grade projects. General guidelines, adapted and condensed from the ISEF rulebook, as well as links to necessary forms, follow (but please don't let this take the place of reading the rules for yourself!) Get Adobe Acrobat

ALL restricted projects need Forms 1 (Sponsor Checklist), 1A (Student Checklist & Research Plan), & 1B (Approval Form) in addition to the forms listed below.

Copies of these completed forms should be returned to the GPHSF Director by November 1 and before the experiment begins. (Original documents must stay with the student.)

All forms (13 pages) can be downloaded at once at http://member.societyforscience.org/document.doc?id=640 or individually by clicking on the links below.

Grade 6 to 12 Grade K to 5
Human Subjects: With appropriate ISEF documentation, normal physiological and behavioral studies may be carried out on people. Projects must be carefully selected so that neither physiological nor psychological harm can result from the study. All projects that involve people in any way must have appropriate ISEF documentation (forms listed at right) and be approved before experimentation begins. This includes asking other people's opinions about your actual experiment (e.g., "Which cookie tastes better?").

In many circumstances, informed consent will also be necessary for each subject before testing. These circumstances include:
  • children as subjects
  • ingestion (eating) or application to the skin of any substance
  • exercise beyond normal activity
  • invasion of privacy or emotional stress (e.g., ANY type of survey)
Please note that some county science fairs require informed consent for all human subjects, regardless of risk. Check out the ISEF rules and the Human Subjects Risk Assessment Guide.
Required:
ISEF Form 4


May be required:
Informed Consent
ISEF Form 2
ISEF Form 3
Required:
ISEF Form 4


May be required:
Informed Consent
ISEF Form 2
ISEF Form 3
Vertebrate Animal Experiments: All science fair experiments involving vertebrate animals (i.e., fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals) must follow strict rules regarding procurement, housing, husbandry, etc., and conditions must be pre-approved. For example, experiments involving small laboratory animals are only allowed in an institutional setting, not in the student's home. However, observational studies of animals may be conducted in their natural habitat (e.g., observing the squirrels who live in your back yard). These projects still require additional paperwork and prior approval. (Consider using lower orders of life, such as protozoa, spiders, insects, crustaceans, etc., which can reveal much basic biological information and, being invertebrates, are not subject to vertebrate animal restrictions.) Check out the ISEF rules. Required:
ISEF Form 2
ISEF Form 5A


May be required:
ISEF Form 3
ISEF Form 5B
Required:
ISEF Form 2
ISEF Form 5A


May be required:
ISEF Form 3
ISEF Form 5B
Pathogens or Potential Pathogens: Anything that can be cultured (grown on a food source, like mold or bacteria) is considered potentially pathogenic. According to ISEF rules, it is not permitted to culture anything in the home. (However, it is permissible to collect specimens from the home or to study whether certain conditions inhibit growth of food molds.) If your experiment includes growing any type of bacteria, fungus, etc., you must work in a laboratory under the supervision of a scientist who has been trained to do it! Check out the ISEF rules. Required:
ISEF Form 2
ISEF Form 6A

May be required:
ISEF Form 3
Required:
ISEF Form 2
ISEF Form 6A

May be required:
ISEF Form 3
Human or Animal Tissue (including ALL bodily fluids). Experimentation on human or animal tissue or any type of bodily fluid will not be allowed for grades K to 5 for safety reasons. Exception: With prior approval from the GPHSF Committee, exceptions can be made for K to 5 students who wish to experiment on the following types of animal tissue ONLY: tissues which are a by-product of food purchased at a reputable food store and are slow to rot, e.g., chicken bones or egg shells. For example, you want to study the effect of vinegar on calcium depletion. You may use bones from last night’s chicken dinner, or egg shells from this morning’s breakfast, but you may not use human teeth, bones from a dead squirrel you found in the street, or bones from the deer your dad the hunter shot last week. If you’re dying to study these things, wait until 6th grade! Check out the ISEF rules. Required:
ISEF Form 6A
ISEF Form 6B


May be required:
ISEF Form 2
ISEF Form 3
Usually Prohibited (see Exception)
Recombinant DNA: Recombinant DNA molecules are defined as
  • Molecules that are constructed outside living cells by joining natural or synthetic DNA segments to DNA molecules that can replicate in a living cell.
  • Molecules that result from the replication of those described above
Check out the ISEF rules.
Required:
ISEF Form 2
ISEF Form 6A

May be required:
ISEF Form 3
Prohibited
Hazardous Chemicals, Activities or Devices: Includes DEA-controlled substances, prescription drugs, alcohol & tobacco, firearms and explosives, radiation, lasers, etc., most often with restrictions of their use by minors. Hazardous activities are those that involve a level of risk above and beyond that encountered in the student's everyday life. Check out the ISEF rules. Required:
ISEF Form 3

May be required:
ISEF Form 2
Prohibited

Other forms you may need:

This page is for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the official ISEF rules. Please consult the ISEF rules and regulations: http://www.member.societyforscience.org/document.doc?id=639 (30-page PDF document) for the complete set of rules.

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Questions? Contact the GPHSF Director. Last modified: 6 November 2015