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. Please refer to the Student Application page for a detailed explanation of the forms that each student needs to submit.

Abstracts should be completed and sent to Janice Fujii before the start of the fair on March 12, 2020. You may email them or mail them to this address:
4495 Big Pine Lane, Concord, 94521.

Remember, abstracts are NOT allowed on your project board at the fair.

Student Application Page >>

In order to compete in the Contra Costa County Science & Engineering Fair, students MUST be present on Friday for the judge interviews. This will include meeting face-to-face 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 Contra Costa County volunteer to judge student projects. They will use specific criteria to review each project.

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

The three-day event schedule and the activities associated with the Contra Costa County Science & Engineering Fair are listed on the Student Information Page.

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 PRIOR to arrival at the CCCSEF for set-up. Projects will NOT be accepted after the deadline of 7:00 p.m.  Please be respectful of our volunteers’ time who are working to make this event possible.

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

Students are required to set up their project themselves.  Adults will not be allowed to sign in or to enter the display rooms. Adults will not be allowed to set up for a student. Displays must be able to stand up without support from a wall. 

Displays violating the CCCSEF Rules and Guidelines will not be allowed to set up. We will provide a room for students to make the corrections needed. We recommend that you come prepared with white out and/or correction tape to cover up any violations on the Display Board or in the Project Book. Once the Project Display and Project Book meet International Science & Engineering Fair guidelines, the student can sign in and place their project in the location assigned.

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.

About Electricity and Multi-Media Displays

Electrical power for project displays must be requested at least 4 weeks before the fair by sending an email to Janice Fujii, CCCSEF Administrator

***You must bring your own extension cords to access electricity.***

Finalists using audio-visual or multi-media presentations (for example, 35mm slides; videotapes; images; animations, etc.) must be prepared to show the entire presentation to the Display and Safety Inspectors before the project is approved.

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.)


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 to Be Displayed at Your Project Board Area at CCCSEF:

  • No handouts are allowed at your project, such as abstract or business cards.
  • 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

Location of the Contra Costa County Science & Engineering Fair 

The gymnasium at Los Medanos College, 2700 E. Leland Rd., Pittsburg, 94565.

Parking: Park in Lot 1A (front lot, next to E. Leland Rd.) THURSDAY: You will need to pay for parking. Parking is free on Friday and Saturday. There will be signs to direct you back to the gymnasium.