Frequently Asked Questions

Does my project need prior approval?

In general, your project will need prior approval if it involves human or animal subjects, potentially hazardous biological agents, or hazardous chemicals/activities/devices. The ISEF has a Wizard  which will help you determine if you need prior approval. If you still have questions or are unsure if your project needs prior approval please call our office at (505) 277-4916.

My project needs prior approval, now what?

Check with your teacher to see if your school has its own local SRC/IRC review board (More information on review Boards and Committees) . If your school has its own local review committee, it can approve all projects needing prior approval except animal subjects, which must be submitted for regional review through our office.

If your project involves animal subjects OR your school does not have a local review committee and you need prior approval then you MUST submit your Protocol Forms to our office for review and approval by our regional review board.

What Category should my project be in?

Here is a list of the ISEF Catergories  and sub-Categories. You should also consult with your teacher before selecting a Category. Additionally, all projects that qualify for regionals are reviewed by our Category Judge Chairs to be sure that each project is placed and competing in the appropriate Category.

What forms do I need?

Every student needs to complete and submit the mandatory individual Intel International Science &; Engineering Fair(ISEF) forms:

  • Forms 1, 1A, and 1B - three forms directly from ISEF
  • Research Plan - your own words using the ISEF format
  • Signature Page - our own STEM Education Outreach Program media and liability release


Go to our Forms Finder page for all the information and downloads you will need for the above forms.

You may need additional Protocol Forms depending on the type of project you are doing. Here is the ISEF Wizard that will help you determine what other forms you may need to complete.

My school/teacher is not listed on the online entry form.

Call our office at (505) 277-4916 or send us an email at scifair@unm.edu. Let us know the name of your school and your teacher's name and we will add these to the online entry form as soon as possible. To avoid duplicates of schools and teachers, we keep control of this database at our office.

What is the Entry Fee and how do I pay?

Entry fee is $27.50 Per Student (6th - 12th) And $15.00 Per Student (4th & 5th) Schools may submit a Purchase Order with their Transmittal Forms. Checks and cash are also accepted. We do not take credit/debit cards.

Where and When can I drop off my Forms and Entry Fee for Research Challenge?

Paperwork Day is the best way to drop off your forms. We can check them while you wait and let you know if anything is missing.

If you cannot make paperwork day, you may:

  • Fax the forms to us at (505) 277-5592
  • Email them to scifair@unm.edu
  • Drop them off in person at our UNM Offices.
  • UNM Health Sciences Center Office for Diversity
    MSC 09 5233 - Health Sciences & Services Bldg, Suite 102
    1 University of New Mexico
    Albuquerque, NM 87131‐0001
    Fax: 505‐277‐5592

    What are the criteria for judging projects, and how many projects are considered?

    Download our PDF of
    Judging Criteria and Processes PDF document. It details the point system, "to-state" qualifier selection, finalist selections and questions about the regional judging process for Intel ISEF science fairs.

    Questions for Judges

    How do I sign up to be a judge?

    You can sign up to be a Regional/Category judge online by clicking here. If you never judged before please fill out all of the requested information. If you have judged before and you remember your login information click here to login. You can then review the information we have for you and make changes if necessary.

    IMPORTANT – Special Award Judges do not need to sign up online! If you are a Special Award Judge please go to Special Award Judges for information about Special Award judging. If you are not sure if you are a Regional Judge or a Special Award Judge please call our office at (505)277-4916.

    What is the difference between a Regional Judge and a Special Award Judge?

    Regional Judges are assigned to a specific Catergories (i.e. Chemistry, Animal Science, etc.). A Regional Judge determine 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each Category based on their scores of each project in five specific areas. Anyone with a background (preferably a degree or and/or work experience) in the Category they wish to judge can be a Regional Judge. Regional judging takes place in the morning.

    Special Award Judges are associated with a group, business, association, or individual which has donated a Special Award. Each Special Award has its own judging criteria that is set by the donor. Some Special Award examples are:  the Karen Cuddihy Memorial Award for Behavioral or Environmental Sciences; the Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque for excellence in any Category; or the Jaynes Corporation for projects related to engineering. For more information is available at Special Award Judges.
    The Special Award judging takes place in the afternoon.

    I am thinking of signing up as a Regional Judge, what can I expect?

    Regional judges or Category Judges are assigned to a specific Catergory. If you decide to sign up you will be asked to enter your top four Category preferences and we make every effort to place you in one of your top choices. Judges can also choose whether they want to judge in the Junior Division (middle school) or Senior Division (high school). There is a deadline before the Research Challenge in March. Please call us at (505) 277-4916 regarding the cutoff for registration.

    Category judging's time commitment for judges will be from approximately 7:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Category judges interview exhibitors and score them in five areas. Scores as well as caucus room discussions determine 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and honorable mention in each Category. Each Category has an assigned Judge Chair who will run caucus meetings, give scoring and interviewing instructions and so forth.

    You may also want to review our Judges Training Manual for more detailed information on what to expect, sample interview questions, judging tips and tricks, and much more. Please don't hesitate to call our office at (505) 277-4916 or send us an email at scifair@unm.edu if you have questions.