California State Science Fair
Changes from 2002 - 2003


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 the changes listed below will be implemented. Some of these changes were discussed at the last County Coordinators' Conference which was held during the 2002 California State Science Fair.

 * Separate Application Deadlines: Submission and Application Fee
 * Display Regulations: No Living Organisms
 * No USC Housing
 * Team Projects: Maximum Reduced to Three Students
 * All Applications through Web Site
 * Category Definitions Not Revised
Annual Update
 * Revised Project Allocations for 2003

Separate Deadlines: Submission and Application Fee

Separate deadlines are established for application submission, and for payment of the Application Fee. In prior years a single deadline was established by which time applications had to have been received by the Fair. Providing a web application meant that the Application Fee was necessarily received afterwards. However, not defining a deadline for receipt of the Application Fee caused confusion both by students who worried that the fee had to be received by the Submission Deadline, and by those who delayed payment significantly.

Separate deadlines are now defined: a Submission Deadline, by which time the Web application must be completed, and an Application Fee Deadline, by which time the Application Fee must be received by the Fair. While applications are considered "received" when they are submitted, they are not considered "complete" until the Application Fee has been received. Each student's deadlines are determined by the affiliated fair through which they have qualified to CSSF. Failure to submit and complete an application by the relevant deadlines may result in the application not being accepted in favor of other applications from students in the same affiliated fair.

Special Note for Alternates: All students from an affiliated fair, whether qualified by that affiliate or named as an alternate, must meet the same Submission and Application Fee deadlines. If an application is not accepted because the allocation from the affiliate has been filled, the corresponding Application Fee will be refunded.

Return of Duplicate Application Fees: CSSF recognizes that the Application Fees of some students will be paid by others, such as a school district. Nevertheless, the Application Fee deadline still applies. Since a late payment would jeopardize the application, it is recommended that students in this situation submit the Application Fee immediately upon submission of the Application. If another payment is subsequently received and identified as applying to the student, the student's Application Fee will be refunded.

Display Regulations: No Living Organisms

Project displays may not contain any living organism. Beginning in 2003, the California State Science Fair will no longer permit the display of any living organism. This prohibition includes all animals, plants, and studied collections of microscopic life forms such as bacteria, fungi, molds, etc.

This change is expected to benefit the displays of the many projects which concerned living organisms which in previous years would have presented the organisms themselves. The Fair has always recommended the substitution of photographs of the subjects of study, because the results of the project during its execution are rarely obvious from the state of the subjects at CSSF.

No USC Housing

This year only, USC Housing is unavailable. Every year the Fair arranges to provide convenient local housing in USC dorms for participants. However, in 2003 only, the combination of an early date for CSSF and a late date for USC's Commencement will preclude this option. Help in finding housing will be provided in the form of information on our Web site, but the Fair will be unable to accept any reservation requests.

Again in 2004 and for several years after that, USC Housing will again be available.

Team Projects: Maximum Reduced to Three Students

Four-person teams will not be accepted after 2003. The California State Science Fair has permitted teams of students to cooperate on a single project for several years. During this entire time the number of cooperating students has been limited to no more than four. This limitation will be reduced to three beginning in 2004. (In deference to affiliates which still allow four-member teams, enforcement of this reduction has been delayed until after the current Fair.)

This change should have little practical impact. The number of four-person projects has never exceeded 1% of the total number of projects. Last year there was only one such project.

All Applications through Web Site

All Applications to the 2003 Fair must be done through the Fair's Web site. While electronic application has been an option for several years, this process was made mandatory for the 2002 Fair. The experiment succeeded in facilitating rapid application and confirmation to participants, and easy communication to judges (and the general public) of project summaries.

For 2003 and all future Fairs, applications will only be accepted through the Fair's Web site. A printed application form will continue to be provided in the Application Packet given to every qualifying student at affiliated county and regional science fairs, but it will serve only as a reminder of the information required. When the application process is available, a link will be provided on the Fair's Home Page.

Electronic applications are now required in order to facilitate correct data entry, proper (and timely) project categorization, and dissemination of project abstracts to judges and other participants. Students, parents, teachers, and affiliated fair officials with concerns regarding this requirement are encouraged to contact us with these concerns as early as possible in order that we may resolve problems in special circumstances.

Category Definitions Not Revised

The Category definitions for the 2003 Fair have not been revised from 2002. Contrary to early predictions, the category definitions for the 2003 Fair have not been revised. Several categories are actively being studied for possible revision, division, and elimination for the 2004 Fair. This will be discussed at the 2003 Conference. For reference, here are the 2003 Category Definitions.

Revised Project Allocations for 2003

The allocations to affiliated fairs of the number of projects which may be sent to CSSF have been revised from 2002 levels. Beginning in 1998, the number of projects which each affiliated fair is allowed to qualify 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 2003. The allocation criteria are unchanged from the previous year. Here are these allocations, along with their determining factors.

See also: Changes in recent years: 2002 , 2001 , 2000 , 1999 , 1998 , 1997 .

Last updated: Tue Jan 28 11:27:03 PST 2003
California State Science Fair / Changes for 2003 /