California State Science Fair
Changes from 2004 - 2005


The California State Science Fair strives continually to improve the quality of the event for its participants throughout the State of California. As part of these ongoing efforts the changes listed below will be implemented. Some of these changes were discussed at the last County Coordinators' Conference which was held during the 2004 California State Science Fair.

 * Qualifying Requires Only Selection by Affiliate
 * Keynote and Student Orientation Restored
 * Separate Application Deadlines: Submission and Application Fee
Annual Update
 * Category Definitions Not Revised
 * Revised Project Allocations for 2005
More to come...

Qualifying Requires Only Selection by Affiliate

Affiliated fairs need not be concerned with presenting particular awards to projects when qualifying them to CSSF. For many years the California State Science Fair permitted each affiliate to determine the number of projects it wished to qualify, limited only by the requirement that the affiliate had presented a category award of either first place, second place, or third place. Honorable mention category awards were not permitted to qualify. However, since 1998 CSSF has established allocations for each affiliate, limiting the total number of projects which each may qualify. (See the last article below.) In some fairs, so many first place awards are presented that only a fraction of them may be qualified. In others, the top three place awards are awarded rather more sparingly, and in consequence some high quality projects would receive honorable mentions and thus not qualify to CSSF.

This rule was changed for the 2004 Fair. While CSSF still does require that each qualifying project must have won a category award (note: not a special award given by an external organization), the level of this category award is irrelevant to CSSF. Thus, a project winning any category award (e.g. first, second, third, honorable mention, or any other title) is acceptable given only that the affiliated fair specifically selects the project as one of its representatives to CSSF.

This rule is being repeated in this year's "Changes List" because some affiliates were still unaware of this rule change as of early 2005, and CSSF does not wish to distort any affiliate's choice of awards based upon the issue of qualifying students to CSSF.

Keynote and Student Orientation Restored

The Keynote Address on Monday afternoon, and the Student Orientation on Tuesday morning, have been restored as regular features of the Fair. For the 2004 Fair, the State Budget Crisis had as one of its indirect consequences, the cancellation of these two ceremonies. The third and final ceremony, the Awards Ceremony, was retained, but was moved a few hundred yards to the south and held within the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. While the budget for the California State Science Fair is not directly supported by the State of California, CSSF is dependent upon the facilities and the staff of the California Science Center, a State institution. In consequence of the impact of the State budget crisis on the Science Center, its support for the California State Science Fair was reduced last year.

This year, the California Science Center has completed the construction of a new building, the Wallis Annenberg Building, which has sufficient space to hold the Keynote Address and Student Orientation. The Awards Ceremony, however, will be held in the Sports Arena, just as in 2004.

Publications of the Fair are still impacted by the Budget Crisis. Since the 1980s we have distributed each year a poster announcing the California State Science Fair to thousands of middle and high schools throughout the State. This poster was not printed in 2004, nor will it be printed in 2005. The Student Application Packet was similarly not printed in 2004, nor will it be printed in 2005, though the content of the Packet is available for download from this web site. Other publications which are similarly not printed but available for download are the Judging Handbook and the Volunteer Handbook.

Separate Deadlines: Submission and Application Fee

Separate deadlines are established for application submission, and for payment of the Application Fee. Through 2002 a single deadline was established by which time applications had to have been received by the Fair. Providing a web application meant that the Application Fee was necessarily received afterwards. However, not defining a deadline for receipt of the Application Fee caused confusion both by students who worried that the fee had to be received by the Submission Deadline, and by those who delayed payment significantly.

Separate deadlines are now defined: a Submission Deadline, by which time the Web application must be completed, and an Application Fee Deadline, by which time the Application Fee must be received by the Fair. While applications are considered "received" when they are submitted, they are not considered "complete" until the Application Fee has been received. Each student's deadlines are determined by the affiliated fair through which he/she has qualified to CSSF. Failure to submit and complete an application by the relevant deadlines may result in the application not being accepted in favor of earlier applications from students in the same affiliated fair. These separate deadlines were established in 2003, and are now a permanent feature of the Fair.

Special Note for Alternates: All students from an affiliated fair, whether qualified by that affiliate or named as an alternate, must meet the same Submission and Application Fee deadlines. If an application is not accepted because the allocation from the affiliate has been filled, the corresponding Application Fee will be refunded.

Return of Duplicate Application Fees: CSSF recognizes that the Application Fees of some students will be paid by others, such as a school district. Nevertheless, the Application Fee deadline still applies. Since a late payment would jeopardize the application, it is recommended that students in this situation submit the Application Fee immediately upon submission of the Application. If another payment is subsequently received and identified as applying to the student, the student's Application Fee will be refunded.

Category Definitions Unchanged

The Category definitions for the 2005 Fair have been left unchanged from 2004.

As for the future several categories are actively being studied for possible revision, division, and elimination for the 2006 Fair. This will be discussed at the 2005 Conference. For reference, here are the 2005 Category Definitions.

Revised Project Allocations for 2005

The allocations to affiliated fairs of the number of projects which may be sent to CSSF have been revised from 2002 levels. Beginning in 1998, the number of projects which each affiliated fair is allowed to qualify to CSSF has been defined as an explicit limit by CSSF, rather than loose limits determined by each fair independently. Generally speaking, this new allocation process has been a success. Based upon discussions with our affiliates, most notably all of those participating in recent County Coordinators Conferences, these allocations have been revised for 2005. The allocation criteria are unchanged from the previous year. Here are these allocations, along with their determining factors.

See also: Changes in recent years: 2004 , 2003 , 2002 , 2001 , 2000 , 1999 , 1998 , 1997 .

Last updated: Wed Mar 16 14:03:55 PST 2005
California State Science Fair / Changes for 2005 /