Elementary & Junior Divisions


  • Forms 1, 1A and 1B MUST be completed by all NIRSEF participants and brought to the NIRSEF.
  • Exhibitors are required to include an abstract with their projects. The purpose of having an abstract is to provide judges at the NIRSEF and the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair an opportunity to evaluate projects early for potential safety risks and judging assignments. Information on writing an abstract is posted below.

Elementary Student Abstract Writing Tips

Junior Student Abstract Writing Tips

The following types of research are discouraged but can be permitted with advanced permission. Students must have their projects approved by our Safety Review Committee BEFORE starting their research!

  • Bacterial Studies Conducted in a certified school setting with a teacher trained and certified for BSL-1 work. NO BACTERIAL STUDIES FOR STUDENTS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (GRADES K-5) WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR ENTRY TO AN INDIANA REGIONAL FAIR.
  • Junior level students (Grades 6 - 8) are DISCOURAGED from conducting research using hazardous biological materials (bacteria, DNA, fungi, molds, etc.) where the materials must be cultured. If you plan to do this research, you must do it in a BioSafety Level 2 laboratory and have all correct forms submitted to the NIRSEF Safety Review Committee (SRC) BEFORE experimentation.
  • Human Subjects may be used only if all experimentation is conducted under adult supervision and student researchers have notified parents of the conditions of the experiment and provided the opportunities for subjects to opt out of participation. All guidelines for human participants research must be followed and forms submitted to an IRB committee BEFORE experimentation begins. 

  • Animal Behavior Studies Research projects should be reviewed by a
    Veterinarian to ensure the safety of the student and animal. All Vertebrate animal studies MUST be of an observational nature and not be done with any animals other than family pets. 

  • If you wish to do an animal research project, please use invertebrates!


  • All Safety Review Committee (SRC) or Institutional Review Board (IRB) forms can be completed on the SEFI Project registration site or can be downloaded from the Society for Science and the Public site.

The following are prohibited in K-8 Science Fair Projects with NO Exceptions

  • Radioactive substances or equipment that emits any form of ionizing radiation

  • Hazardous Chemicals or reagents, DEA Controlled substances, tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, firearms or explosives.

  • Biological Agents Experiments at Home projects that use or study microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, prions, fungi and parasites. Some research may be possible if conducted in a high school under the supervision of a properly trained teacher. (see above)

  • Vertebrate Animal Research involving pain, withholding of food or water.
    All Vertebrate animal research should be reviewed by a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

  • Class IV Lasers (All use of Lasers must be under direct supervision of a qualified adult) 

See the SEFI website for a full list of rules. Questions about NIRSEF project eligibility and registration can be directed to the Executive Director, Micha Kilburn.