During the judging period and lunch only the exhibitors, judges and NIRSEF Committee and Volunteers will be permitted in the entire Fair area. The Fair will NOT be open to the public, including parents, until 1:30 p.m.


There are many adults around to ensure the safety of all exhibitors, and a trained medical professional is on duty in the event of any medical situations. Only in emergency situations will exhibitors be allowed to leave Stepan Center before the Award Ceremony is completed (approximately 4:30 p.m.); and before doing so, they must obtain the permission of the Fair Director.

The Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair cannot be responsible for lost or stolen items. We will have persons continually patrolling the area and, to decrease the possibilities of theft, we ask that students stay with their projects. Please keep track of your awards and ribbons!

Category Awards:

Projects are to be judged for a First, Second, Third or Honorable Mention ribbon taking into consideration the grade level of the student. Each project is to be judged relative to itself and the ISEF judging criteria, rather than relative to others in its Category. Thus, all projects in a Category could be awarded a first place ribbon (rare) or no project could be awarded a first place (also rare). The Category placing does not impact an exhibitor's eligibility to be selected by the Special Awards Teams to advance to the HSEF (a first place ribbon does not indicate a project will advance and a second/third/honorable mention ribbon does not indicate that a project will not advance).

All NIRSEF participants receive either a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or Honorable Mention ribbon within their Category. The Category Awards ensure that each project receives feedback and an accolade for participating but do not influence the Special Awards Teams’ Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair selections.

Independent Awards:

Independent Awards Teams provide NIRSEF awards that do not impact the projects that are selected to advance to the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair. For instance, the U.S. Army sends a team of judges to determine the project(s) that best envelop their award criteria.

Special Awards:

The Special Awards Teams select those projects that will be advancing to the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair from each of the 5 Divisions based on the ISEF judging criteria: Elementary Life (2 projects to HSEF), Elementary Physical (2 projects to HSEF), Junior Life (3 projects to HSEF), Junior Physical (3 projects to HSEF), and Senior (10 projects to HSEF). Neither the Category or the Independent Awards are known to or considered by the Special Awards Teams in their selections.