California Science & Engineering Fair
Application Acceptance Criteria 2024


Submission of an Application to the California Science & Engineering Fair does not guarantee acceptance to the Fair. The Fair has always rejected applications on the basis of inappropriate content and for violations of Fair regulations. Projects which are substandard (poor quality) or incomplete will also be rejected. The basis for this judgement of quality is exclusively the information provided within the project's online application. The California Science & Engineering Fair does not consider other submitted materials or awards won at affiliated fairs.

The following is the official list of acceptance criteria:

  1. Acceptance to present a project at the California Science & Engineering Fair requires the approval of an Application submitted by the student(s).
  2. Applications without a Project Abstract will be rejected without recourse to appeal. Each student on a team project must complete his/her own personal Application, but the Project Abstract need only be supplied by one member of the team. As long as the Abstract is provided by at least one member, other members of the team may choose to provide or omit the Abstract without penalty.
  3. Abstracts must demonstrate a level of knowledge and investigation that is appropriate for the grade of the student and discipline and which is beyond what is considered common knowledge. In other words, the investigations must demonstrate knowledge that is not found in middle or high school textbooks.
  4. Abstracts must communicate ideas effectively and use standard English.
  5. The methodology and experimental design should be appropriate for the student's grade and discipline, and should include the following where appropriate:
  6. Projects which are merely demonstrations, display collections, and literature searches are generally not acceptable. In order to be acceptable, the student must use the demonstration, collection, or search results, to extract new information not previously known to the student.
  7. Applications may be rejected for failing to satisfy the rules of the Fair.
  8. Application Fees are not refundable. The only exception is for multiple payments for the same application.
  9. All rejected Applications will be reviewed by the Directors of Judging and are subject to appeal (with the exception of those applications which do not contain an Abstract).

Students, parents, and advisors should be aware that these acceptance criteria are not intended to limit the number of participants but rather, by requiring higher standards for project abstracts, the criteria are intended to improve the quality of the Fair and to ensure that all participants are able to effectively communicate their projects to the judges. Only a small percentage of Applications have ever been identified as likely to be rejected. Every Application so identified this year will be contacted in a timely manner as described in the Calendar, where the process of appeal is also described.

California Science & Engineering Fair / Acceptance Criteria /