California State Science Fair
Changes from 1999 - 2000


The California State Science Fair strives continually to improve the quality of the event for its participants throughout the State of California. As part of these ongoing efforts we will be implementing certain policy changes this year. Some of these changes were discussed at the last County Coordinators' Conference which was held during the 1999 California State Science Fair.

Policy Changes
 * Application Fee Increased
 * New Criteria for Acceptability of Late Applications
 * Rejections Guaranteed to be Timely
 * Sixth Grade Projects Retained
 * Some Fairs' Application Deadlines Modified
 * Revised Project Allocations for 2000

Application Fee Increased

The Application Fee has increased from $10 to $20. This Application Fee applies to applications which are submitted (postmarked) by the relevant Application Deadline (see below). Applications may still be accepted (subject to limits described below) if postmarked by the Final Deadline. The Application Fee for such late applications has been increased from last year's fee of $20 to $30.

New Criteria for Acceptability of Late Applications

Late applications submitted before the Final Deadline may not be accepted. Historically, all applications which were certified by affiliated fairs as qualified to enter the California State Science Fair and received by the Final Deadline were accepted, whether or not the application was received by the affiliate's Application Deadline.

Note: This distinction between the two deadlines is only applicable for affiliated fairs whose Awards Ceremonies occur on or before April 16. The Final Deadline for the 2000 Fair is May 1, whereas each affiliated fair's Application Deadline is the earlier of May 1 or fourteen calendar days following the affiliate's Awards Ceremony. The changes discussed in this section will only affect those fairs whose Application Deadline is earlier than the Final Deadline.

In the following discussion we distinguish between three classes of projects submitted from affiliated fairs:
  1. Certified Projects. These projects are determined by each affiliate to be the best projects at their fair. The number of certified projects from an affiliate is limited to the project allocation discussed below.
  2. Wait-Listed Projects. These projects are determined by each affiliate to be worthy representatives of their fair, and would have been selected as "Certified" had only the affiliate's project allocation been larger. Wait-listed projects are ordinarily accepted only to the number of certified projects which do not apply to CSSF.
  3. Non-Qualifying Projects. All "Certified" and "Wait-Listed" projects are communicated to CSSF immediately following the affiliate's Awards Ceremony. Projects not included on these lists are not eligible to participate in CSSF regardless of the number of other projects from the affiliate which may elect not to participate.
The apparent complexity of the following rules should not obscure this essential fact: certified projects which are submitted in a timely manner (prior to the Application Deadline) will be accepted, subject only to scientific review discussed elsewhere. The rules given below are meant to insure fairness among all eligible projects which do not fall into this category: wait-listed projects and/or late applications.

The California State Science Fair has decided that beginning this year, applications for projects from an affiliated fair which are received after that affiliate's Application Deadline will not be guaranteed acceptance into CSSF. This is a significant change in the meaning of the term "Application Deadline." In previous years only the amount of the application fee changed after that deadline. Now, failing to meet the Application Deadline may mean that even a certified project will not be accepted. The rules determining acceptability of all applications from an affiliate (with respect to the affiliate's project allcation) are as follows:

  1. On Time Rule. All projects whose applications to CSSF are postmarked (or submitted, if an electronic application) by their Application Deadline will be counted. As long as the total number received is less than or equal to the affiliated fair's allocation, all will be accepted, subject to the PARC quality review, whether the projects are on the affiliate's certified list or on its waiting list. If the number exceeds the allocation, the projects lowest on the waiting list will not be accepted.
    In this rule, there is no "Grace Period" allowed for electronic applications. The "Grace Period" does, however, still apply in determining the application fee and Final Deadline.
  2. Late Applications. All projects whose applications are postmarked (or submitted) after the applicable Application Deadline will be accepted only to the extent that such acceptance will not exceed the affiliated fair's allocation.
    This rule means that it is possible that a wait-listed project received before the affiliate's Application Deadline will cause a higher ranked certified project received after that Deadline to be rejected. This rule is meant to encourage timely submission of applications.
  3. Late Acceptances. The acceptance of projects after the Application Deadline will be in order of postmark date (or submission date if an electronic application). When multiple applications are postmarked (or submitted) on the same date, and only some can be accepted in maintaining the affiliate's allocation, selection will be made on the basis of quality as determined by CSSF.
  4. The "If It's Our Fault" Rule. In the event of the failure by CSSF to identify cases of allocations being exceeded by the end of the fifteenth (15) day prior to CSSF Registration (for 2000 this is Sunday, May 7) and of contacting (or at least phoning and attempting to contact) students by that day, projects subsequently discovered to exceed the affiliate's allocation will not be rejected on these grounds.
    In the event that an applicant whose application has been rejected is unable to be contacted on account of not providing a phone number on the application, or the provided phone number is non-functional, "It's Not Our Fault" and this rule does not apply.
The application of these new rules will result in each affiliate having the maximum number of eligible students representing them at CSSF, while minimizing the delay in informing students whose applications are not acceptable.

Rejections Guaranteed to be Timely

All project rejections will be informed more than two weeks prior to the Fair. This is a consequence of the new criteria for acceptability of late applications discussed above. In previous years students who were wait-listed had to wait until all applications were processed before it was known whether or not their application could be accepted within their affiliate's project allocation. This final accounting usually occurred one to three days after the date when airlines allowed cheap, though non-refundable, ticketing (typically 14 days prior to departure).

Thanks to the new late-application policy discussed above, all wait-listed students will be guaranteed to learn whether their wait-list position was below the cut-off line more than 14 days prior to the Fair's set-up day. For those applicants whose Application Deadline is significantly earlier than the Final Deadline, their wait-list acceptability will be known almost immediately.

For all students (both certified and wait-listed) applications still need to pass review for scientific content, which this year will occur on May 6, 2000. Typically, fewer than 1% of all applications fail to pass the initial scientific review, and even a fraction of these are found to be acceptable after discussion with the applicants. This scientific review is unchanged from previous years and is described more completely in the Official Application Packet.

Sixth Grade Projects Retained

Sixth grade students will be eligible to participate in the 2000 California State Science Fair. Sixth grade students were first admitted to the California State Science Fair in 1999 as a one-year experiment. At that time we stated explicitly that
No decision regarding the admissibility of sixth grade students in future years will be made until after the 1999 Fair.
At the 1999 County Coordinators' Conference, representative of affiliated fairs throughout the State were uniform in their support for the continuation of this policy, despite difficulties which many found in the implementation of that policy within their individual fairs. The California State Science Fair has now decided to establish the eligibility of sixth grade students as a permanent rule.

This extension of grade levels does not affect the number of projects allocated to any affiliate. Each affiliate is the sole authority in determining how many projects from each grade level will be selected to represent the affiliate at the State Science Fair. It is within the authority of each affiliate not to select any sixth grade project (or any other grade for that matter) even if sixth grade students participate in the affiliated fair itself.

Some Fairs' Application Deadlines Modified

All fairs now have Application Deadlines between April 1 and May 1. This change affects only those fairs whose Awards Ceremonies occur on March 17 or earlier. Previously, the Application Deadline was defined as either 14 calendar days after the affiliate's Awards Ceremony or the Final Application Deadline (which this year is May 1), whichever came earlier. This rule was determined to be unfair to fairs which are held much earlier than others (on occasion as much as three months earlier). All affiliates' Application Deadlines are still defined as 14 calendar days following the Awards Ceremony, but will be no earlier than April 1, and no later than the Final Deadline of May 1. A table of all affiliates' deadlines is available here.

Revised Project Allocations for 2000

The allocations to affiliated fairs of the number of projects which may be sent to CSSF have been revised from 1999 levels. Beginning in 1998, the number of projects which each affiliated fair is allowed to certify to CSSF has been defined as an explicit limit by CSSF, rather than loose limits determined by each fair independently. Generally speaking, this new allocation process has been a success. Based upon discussions with our affiliates, most notably all of those participating in recent County Coordinators Conferences, these allocations have been revised for 2000. Here are these allocations, along with their determining factors. All affiliates have been informed of their allocations in the announcement letter from the Chair of the Fair.

See also: Changes in recent years: 1999 , 1998 , 1997 .


Last updated: Wed Mar 22 22:34:43 PST 2000
California State Science Fair / Changes for 2000 /