Topic Selection

If you know your subject area that you want to compete in the science fair, but don’t have a project idea yet, you could try the Science Buddies Topic Selection Wizard. 


International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) Student Handbook: As an ISEF-affiliated Fair, we adhere to the ISEF rules and guidelines. Your teacher may have already given you the ISEF Student Handbook. But if not, you will find lots of useful information about competing at an ISEF-affiliated Science & Engineering Fair. We suggest that you print it out for easy reference.


Entering Your Project

Does your science fair project need pre-approval before you begin? To answer this question, please refer to the International Science & Engineering Fair’s Rules Wizard.

Rules Wizard

IMPORTANT: All projects conducted in a professional research institute must submit for pre-approval. ISEF has its own set of rules that need to be followed for your acceptance to compete in the CCCSEF. These rules may differ from research institution policies. 


You need to complete all the necessary forms to compete in the ISEF-affiliated Contra Costa County Science & Engineering Fair.

Abstracts should be completed and emailed to Janice Fujii before the start of the fair on March 11, 2021. Email the abstract to

Remember, abstracts are NOT allowed on your project board.

In order to compete in the Contra Costa County Science & Engineering Fair, students MUST be available on Friday for the judge interviews. This will include meeting with members of the Science Fair Judging Team to demonstrate your knowledge of the project that you submitted. Please review the CCCSEF Judging Criteria on the last page of the Student Handbook, used to judge the interviews.

About the Judges

Over 130 judges from a variety of disciplines and industries in the East Bay volunteer to judge student projects. They will use specific criteria to review each project. View judging criteria here.

During your interview the judges will be focusing especially on your demonstration of knowledge about the subject matter of your project.

About Your Presentation

Poster board and project binder must be completed and reviewed by Adult Sponsor using the Project Display Rules & Guidelines. Students, be sure that your Project Displays and Project Books are in compliance with the stated guidelines.

If you are looking for an alternative to the poster boards found at local craft stores, check this company.

Displays may not violate the CCCSEF Rules and Guidelines.

Make sure that your project display adheres to these dimensions:

Depth (front to back): 30 inches or 76 centimeters
Width (side to side): 48 inches or 122 centimeters
Height (floor to top): 108 inches or 274 centimeters

NEW FEATURE: One of our chief judges has created this video to help you put together a successful project board. Please watch this video for some great suggestions and information on what to include, how to include it, and also what not to do!

About Creating an Effective Project Display

The ISEF Student Handbook provides an overview about the design and required elements of the Project Display Board. Please review the CCCSEF Judging Criteria used to judge the Project Boards.

Finalists using audio-visual or multi-media presentations (for example, digital recordings; images; animations, etc.) must be prepared to show the entire presentation to the Display and Safety Inspectors before the project is approved.


Photographs other than that of the finalist must have a photo release signed by the subject, and if the subject is under 18 years of age, also signed by the parent/guardian of the subject. Any photograph displayed on your project board must have a credit line underneath it, for example: “Photograph taken by…” or “Image taken from…” or “Graph/Chart/Table taken from…” If all images displayed were taken by or created by the student or are from the same source, one credit line prominently and vertically displayed on the poster board is sufficient, saying: “All photographs taken by participant.” Remember, you are not allowed to use your name!

The Following Are NOT Allowed on Your Project Board:

  • Abstract
  • Names  (Do not include names of students, parents, teachers, mentors, school or anyone involved in your project.)

The Following Are NOT Allowed to Be Displayed at Your Project Board Area at CCCSEF:

  • No living organisms, including plants.
  • No soil, sand, rock, cement and/or waste samples, even if permanently encased in a slab of acrylic.
  • No taxidermy specimens or parts.
  • No preserved vertebrate or invertebrate animals.
  • No human or animal food as part of the exhibitor demonstration of the project.
  • No human/animal parts or body fluids (for example, blood, urine.)
  • No 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.)
  • No water or chemicals are allowed.
  • No poisons, drugs, firearms, weapons, ammunition, reloading devices, or lasers.
  • No items that may have contained or been in contact with hazardous chemicals.
  • No dry ice or other sublimating solids.
  • No sharp items (for example, syringes, needles, pipettes, knives.)
  • No flames or highly flammable materials.
  • No batteries with open-top cells or wet cells.
  • No 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.)
  • No 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.) 

    If you have any questions, please email Janice Fujii

Parent Information

How to help your child

  • Your children will benefit from your guidance throughout this process, but it is important to remember to let them do the work of the project!
  • Make sure they know what the deadlines are in advance.
  • Please do review all the forms in the registration packet and ensure that all required forms are included, signed, and mailed on time.
  • Your child may need assistance in purchasing a project board. You can find these at craft stores such as Michaels or Joann’s, etc. We also provide information on purchasing a project board online here.
  • Don’t forget to pay the student registration fee for the fair.
Number of Students

Tips for Success

  • Though your child should do the work of putting together the information on the project board, make sure they watch this video on how to design and assemble a successful project board.
  • Review the project board to ensure your student has not included any information that cannot be allowed on the board, such as names, abstract, etc. Please review list of prohibitions here. List of Prohibitions
  • The verbal interview is so important! Have your student practice their prepared speech for the judges with you over, and over, and over. Lots of practice will help them immensely!

There are so many life-long skills that can be learned and enhanced through the process of science fair participation! Just a few include:

  • Project planning
  • Scheduling and time management
  • Filling out forms (we do this all our lives!)
  • Technical writing skills
  • The fun of science learning and experimentation!
  • Learning to present oneself and ideas in a professional setting
  • Verbal confidence in presenting to strangers

Your child is among the elite in Contra Costa County who has elected to compete in the 2021 Contra Costa County Science & Engineering Fair (CCCSEF). Being one of the top 1 percent of students in the county who is engaging in this competition is a tremendous accomplishment.

We know that having hands-on experiences in math, science, engineering and technology (STEM) is one of the most important factors in creating tomorrow’s workforce.

And while we are honored to have industry partners like Chevron, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Henkel and other sponsors support the annual event, the reality is that we need parent support, as well.  

Contra Costa County Science & Engineering Fair provides this challenging experience for your child so that s/he is able to identify a problem or opportunity, design a solution and share it with more than 130 industry judges in the competition. Students vie for awards and valuable prizes, and try to earn a prestigious spot in the California State Science Fair, the Broadcom Masters National Middle School Science Fair and the Regeneron-affiliated International Science & Engineering Fair—only granted to those who participate in our Contra Costa regional science fair.

We hope you will consider making a donation to CCCSEF beyond the student’s registration fee of $35. Won’t you consider pledging $50, $75, $100 or more to help strengthen this effort? Because we are facing rising costs of materials, programming and organizational support, every contribution helps ensure we have an experience for students second-to-none!

If you work for a local business, perhaps they, too, might welcome the opportunity to provide support to ensure this opportunity is available to more of our community’s children.

Thank you!

School Information

Teachers can greatly enhance the science fair experience for their students and we encourage them to do so! Some ideas for teachers include the following:

  • Create a science fair club that meet after school. Students use the time for online research and to seek help in areas where they may need assistance.
  • Some science teachers make the fair a mandatory part of their curriculum. All students participate, and all students benefit!
  • Announce the science fair to all your students. Let them know that they are welcome to participate and be sure to let them know where to find the information (this website.)
  • Let your students know you are available for mentoring should they need/want help.
  • Remind students of deadlines they need to meet.
  • Many students win hundreds of dollars in cash prizes at our fair, through the generosity of our sponsors. Do you know any students who would be interested in winning that money? Advertise the fair!
  • Students who qualify for the Regeneron ISEF have the possibility of earning $1,000 cash award for their school if they win the Best in Category Award!

Fair dates: March 12 & 13, 2021 (Friday and Saturday)

Location: The fair will be held virtually, 2021.