Display Guidelines

Safety               Self Promotion               Photographs and media

From the Complete ISEF Rules and Guidelines Booklet: Students who do not adhere to these guidelines will not be allowed to set up their exhibits at NIRSEF until forbidden items are removed.


  1. Living organisms, including plants
  2. Soil, sand, rock, cement and/or waste samples, even if permanently encased in a slab of acrylic
  3. Taxidermy specimens or parts
  4. Preserved vertebrate or invertebrate animals
  5. Human or animal food as part of the exhibitor demonstration of the project.
  6. Human/animal parts or body fluids (for example, blood, urine)
  7. Plant materials (living, dead, or preserved) that are in their raw, unprocessed, or non-manufactured state (Exception: manufactured construction materials used in building the project or display)
  8. All chemicals including water (Projects may not use water in any form in a demonstration)
  9. All hazardous substances or devices (Example: poisons, drugs, firearms, weapons, ammunition, reloading devices, and lasers)
  10. Items that may have contained or been in contact with hazardous chemicals (Exception: Item may be permitted if professionally cleaned and document for such cleaning is available)
  11. 3-D Printers
  12. Dry ice or other sublimating solids
  13. Sharp items (for example, syringes, needles, pipettes, knives)
  14. Flames or highly flammable materials (including magnified light sources). A Fresnel Lens cannot be used in confunction with a light source - it becomes an open flame. 
  15. Batteries with open-top cells or wet cells
  16. Glass or glass objects unless deemed by the Display and Safety Committee to be an integral and necessary part of the project (for example, glass that is an integral part of a commercial product such as a computer screen)
  17. Any apparatus deemed unsafe by the Scientific Review Committee, the Display and Safety Committee, or Society for Science & the Public (Example: large vacuum tubes or dangerous ray-generating devices, empty tanks that previously contained combustible liquids or gases, pressurized tanks, etc.)

The NIRSEF Safety Review Committee has the right to ask a student to remove or cover any materials that may be considered hazardous or dangerous or that have not followed the protocol of scientific procedures (e.g. protecting a subject’s anonymity).


  1. Any information on the project display or items that are acknowledgments, self-promotions or external endorsements are not allowed in the project booth. This includes:
    1. The use of logos including known commercial brands, institutional crests or trademarks and/or a personalized graphic/logo that is developed to indicate a commercial purpose or viability of an established or proposed business.
    2. Any reference to an institution or mentor that supported your research except as provided in the official Intel ISEF paperwork, most notably Form 1C or the Qualified Scientist Form 2.
    3. Any reference to patent status of the project. This is considered self-endorsement and is not allowable on the display or at the project booth.
    4. Any items intended for distribution such as disks, CDs, flash drives, brochures, booklets, endorsements, give-away items, business cards, or printed materials designed to be distributed to judges or the public.
  2. Any awards or medals, except for past or present Intel ISEF medals that may be worn by the Finalist.
  3. Postal addresses, World Wide Web, email and/or social media addresses, QR codes, telephone and/or fax numbers of a project or finalist.
  4. Active Internet or email connections as part of displaying or operating the project at the Intel ISEF.
  5. Any attempt to uncover, replenish or return removed language or items from the display or project booth area after Display & Safety Committee review is a violation of the Ethics Statement and may result in the project failing to qualify for competition.
  6. No changes, modifications, or additions to projects may be made after approval by the Display & Safety Committee and the Scientific Review Committee.
    1. Display & Safety inspections will include recording photographic evidence of the approved Project Display and Project booth.
    2. Finalists who do not adhere to this signed agreement on the Intel ISEF Project Set-up Approval Form regarding this regulation will fail to qualify for competition

Photograph/Image Display Requirements

  1. 1. Any photograph/visual image/chart/table and/or graph is allowed if:
    1. It is not deemed offensive or inappropriate (which includes images/photographs showing invertebrate or vertebrate animals/humans in surgical, necrotizing or dissection situations) by the Scientific Review Committee, the Display & Safety Committee, or Society for Science & the Public. The decision made by any one of the groups mentioned above is final.
    2. It has a credit line of origin (“Photograph taken by...”or “Image taken from...” or “Graph/Chart/Table taken from…”). (If all images, etc. being displayed were taken or created by the finalist or are from the same source, one credit line prominently and vertically displayed on the backboard/poster or tabletop is sufficient.)
    3. It is from the Internet, magazine, newspaper, journal, etc., and a credit line is attached. (If all photographs, etc. are from the same source, one credit prominently and vertically displayed is sufficient.)
    4. It is a photograph or visual depiction of the finalist.
    5. It is a photograph or visual depiction for which a signed consent form is at the project or in the booth.
  2. Display of photographs other than that of the finalist must have a photo release signed by the subject, and if under 18 years of age, also by the guardian of the subject.
    1. Sample consent text: “I consent to the use of visual images (photos, videos, etc.) involving my participation/my child’s participation in this research.”
    2. (These forms must be available upon request by a Display & Safety inspector, but shall not be displayed.)
  3. Finalists using audio-visual or multi-media presentations (for example, PowerPoint presentation, YouTube video, images, graphics, etc. displayed on computer monitors or other non-print presentation methods) must be prepared to show the entire presentation to the Display & Safety Inspectors before the project is approved.