Science Fair Project Display: Putting it All Together (page 3)

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Oct 28, 2010

Display Restrictions

You read in Chapter 3 about the project limitation guidelines established by the Intel ISEF. The Intel ISEF also has strict regulations involving the exhibition of certain articles in conjunction with the rest of your exhibit. The following is a summary of the Intel ISEF display and safety rules. If you have any questions, contact your science fair administrator or Science Service, the organization that administers the Intel ISEF, for more information about what is acceptable for display.

A rule of thumb is to avoid anything that could be potentially hazardous to display in public. The intent of the rule is to protect other students and the public. You can usually uphold such regulations by using photographs, drawings, graphs, charts, and model simulations (where permissible) to show the results of your investigation and research.

If you have any doubts about displaying any part of your project, be sure to first check with officials from your local science fair or contact the Intel ISEF. The following is a summary of items that cannot be displayed.

Items That Cannot Be Displayed
  1. Live animals, living organisms, preserved vertebrate/invertebrate animals, taxidermy specimens, or parts including embryos
  2. All live materials, including plants and microbes
  3. Human or animal parts or body fluids (i.e., blood or urine) except teeth, hair, nails, histological dry mount sections, and wet mount tissue slides properly acquired
  4. All soil and waste samples and related materials
  5. All chemicals including water and their containers
  6. Poisons, drugs, controlled substances, or hazardous substances or devices (e.g., firearms, weapons, ammunition)
  7.  Food, human or animal
  8. Syringes, pipettes, and similar devices and sharp objects
  9. Dry ice or other sublimating solids (e.g., solids that can vaporize into a gas without first becoming a liquid)
  10. Any flame, open or concealed
  11. Highly flammable display materials
  12. Tanks that have contained combustible gases or liquids, unless purged with carbon dioxide
  13. Batteries with open top cells
  14. Photographs and other visual presentations of surgical techniques, dissection, necropsies, and/or laboratory techniques depicting vertebrate animals in other-than-normal conditions
  15. Operation of a Class III or IV laser

The following is a summary of items that can be displayed with certain restrictions:

Items That Can Be Displayed with Restrictions

(Check with your local science fair officials to determine how you can make these items suitable for display.)

  1. Projects with unshielded belts, pulleys, chains and moving parts with tension or pinch points
  2. Any device requiring voltage over 110 volts
  3. Soil or waste samples if permanently encased
  4. Empty tanks that previously contained combustible liquids or gases must be certified as having been purged with carbon dioxide
  5. Class III and Class IV lasers (but may not be operated)
  6. Class II lasers containing a sign that reads “Laser Radiation Do Not Stare into Beam,” with a protective housing that prevents access to the beam, operated only during display, safety inspection, and judging
  7. Large vacuum tubes or dangerous ray–generating devices must be properly shielded
  8. Pressurized tanks that contained noncombustibles may be allowed if properly secured
  9. Any apparatus producing temperatures that will cause physical burns must be adequately shielded


  1. Your science project display is very important and should be presented in an organized and attractive manner.
  2. The display should consist of a backboard containing summary information about your project under organized headings that are based on the scientific method, tables, graphs, charts, photographs and diagrams, a report, and an abstract.
  3. Backboards must meet the standard space requirements established by the Intel ISEF, which are 108 inches (274 centimeters) high including table, 30 inches (76 centimeters) deep, and 48 inches (122 centimeters) wide.
  4. The report can be created primarily from your project journal. It contains all the details about each step in your project along with flow charts and photographs that may be too cumbersome or inappropriate to display on your backboard.
  5. An abstract is a short essay that summarizes the goals, methods, and conclusions of your project.
  6. The Intel ISEF has established regulations for the restriction and modification of potentially hazardous items for display.
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