Choosing Your Category

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Please read the category definitions carefully. These definitions may be different from those used in your county or regional fair, and in several cases are different from those used previously in CSEF. Examples of titles of past projects appropriate to each category have been included to help you decide where your project belongs.

In which category does your project belong?

What your project is about, what you actually studied,
defines the category in which your project belongs.

For example, if you compared the effectiveness of different antibiotic products using bacteria as a tool, the subject was the commercial products, so the project belongs in Product Science (Physical). However, if the specific effects of an antibiotic on the bacteria were studied, the project belongs in Microbiology. Similarly, using a computer model to study the effect of pollution on plants probably belongs in Plant Biology. However, if the central objective in that project was writing the computer program, the project probably belongs in Computational Systems and Analysis. Read the instructions on writing the Project Summary carefully.

The Project Abstract Review Committee (composed of scientists and engineers from universities and industry who are also experienced State Science Fair judges) reads each Project Summary in order to assign each project to a category. Your project may be placed into a category which is different from the one to which it was assigned at your county or regional Fair. This is not unusual and is done to assure that similar projects are placed together with each other in the same category. Proper category selection increases your project's likelihood of recognition through Fair awards.

Your assigned category will be determined by the specific focus of your study, not the general subject area.

If your project could possibly belong in more than one category, read this important explanation of the consequences of your choice.

California Science & Engineering Fair / Choosing Your Category /