Special Admission to the
California State Science Fair


There is no CSSF-affiliated fair in my area. How can I qualify to participate in CSSF?

The CSSF-affiliate in my area didn't let me participate in it. How can I qualify to participate in CSSF?

The answer to both of these questions is the same: the California State Science Fair will consider appeals for special admission owing to exceptional circumstances. The number of granted appeals is always small. In many years there are none; the number has never exceeded 0.5% of all participants in any year.

“Exceptional circumstances” means that you were blocked from the normal and expected route to the Fair. Reasons for this can include:

The California State Science Fair will not consider an appeal if:


If you believe that you have a project worthy of participation in the California State Science Fair and qualifies for consideration under the criteria listed above, then a letter of appeal should be submitted to the Fair via email at CalifSF@usc.edu as soon as possible, and in all cases must be submitted before the final Application Deadline. This letter should include:

  1. An explanation of the reason that the project was not qualified through the normal process. If there is no affiliate covering your geographical location, that explanation is sufficient. If there is a cognizant affiliate, an explanation is required of the reason you did not participate in that fair.
  2. A brief summary of the project. This is best presented in the same format as the Project Summary page of an application. If yours is a team project, make sure to include the names and grades of all team members.
  3. Name and contact information for 2-3 people who can evaluate the scientific quality of the project. Ideally this will include at least one person who has judged at either the California State Science Fair or at one of its affiliates in order to establish a basis upon which a comparison may be made to other CSSF participants. If the project was done in conjunction with a professional laboratory (academic or industrial) the research director most closely connected with their work should be included. If only a teacher in your school is available, the work should be explicitly compared with work done by individual students in that school, and a statement as to whether or not the teacher is familiar with other local projects which have previously qualified to CSSF.
  4. If you attend school in an area covered by an affiliated fair, you should ask them to report to us on your case. Absent comment from the cognizant affiliate, CSSF will contact them directly. Evaluations of scientific quality from the affected affiliate are particularly valuable.

Following receipt of a complete appeal, the Appeals Committee will review and convey a decision within seven days. If the appeal is approved, an application must be completed within three days or before the Final Application Deadline, whichever is earlier.

Last updated: Thu Feb 5 20:28:42 PST 2009
California State Science Fair / FAQ: Special Admission / CalifSF@usc.edu