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Steps to State - Checklist for Competing at OSSEF

While there's no hard and fast rule for how to successfully prepare for OSSEF, we hope the following information will be useful to students as they begin their journey to state!

  • Identify a mentor

    Seeking out a mentor is an important step for a student interested in competing in science fairs. Mentors can provide invaluable advice regarding the direction of the project, organization of research, and presentation of findings. At the conclusion of the experience, mentors can also serve as solid references.

    A mentor should be someone you can have regular contact with to discuss the progression of your project.

    Where to look:

    • Contact faculty at a nearby college or university (be sure to read their biographies first and know their areas of research)
    • Attend a summer research program, such as those found herehere, and here
    • Previous science fair judges
    • Local teachers

    For more information on locating a mentor, click here.


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  • Design and implement a science project

    Think about an area in science or engineering that interests you. For inspiration, you can check out the categories and subcategories that submitted projects will be placed in here.


    Once you've identified a general area of interest, you will want to focus on exploring a new area or question that can be researched within a reasonable time frame. Your mentor should be able to help you navigate this process and come up with a research question that is neither too broad or too narrow. 


    Some things to ask yourself:

    • What's new about what I'm doing?
    • What is the specific question I want my research to answer?
    • What kind of equipment is going to be needed for my project?
    • How much do I know about my topic?

    Science Buddies provides additional information on how to formulate ideas for science and engineering projects.

  • Participate in local science fair
    Some school districts may sponsor a local science and engineering fair for students. Ask a teacher or administrator at your school if there will be a local fair. Local fairs are a great way to get practice presenting your project before a live audience.
  • Compete in your regional fair

    There are eight regional science and engineering fairs in Oklahoma. Find the locations and contact information for each of the regional fairs here


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  • Advance to OSSEF and register by the deadline

    Students nominated from a regional fair may participate in the state level science and engineering fair. Online registration must be submitted by 11:59p.m. on February 11, 2024. Registration Opens on January 16, 2024 at 8:00am.


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  • Find and complete the correct forms
    Determine which ISEF forms you will need to fill out by completing the Rules Wizard found here. The deadline to submit your ISEF forms is the same as the deadline to register for state. 
    Note: Junior High/Middle School Students  (6th - 8th grades) have the option of using the simplified MS-EZ forms instead of the full set of ISEF forms. MS-EZ projects must fit specific requirements.
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  • Prepare for the interview and presentation with OSSEF judges

    You can find a comprehensive explanation of the judging criteria used for OSSEF here.


    Students will be asked to dress professionally while presenting their project findings. If you or someone you know will have difficulty finding relevant clothing, please let us know.

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  •  Showcase your work (and follow the display rules) on your science fair board

    Your science fair board is an opportunity to show what you know. Information should be organized in a coherent manner that allows observers to easily follow the progression of the project from start to finish. Research should be stated concisely, with a focus on visual representations of the data. Aim to have a catchy title for your project and compelling images.


    Below you will find the Display and Safety Regulations and Set-up Approval Form  in place for the Oklahoma State Science and Engineering Fair. Please review these regulations to prepare your board and documents for display at OSSEF. Don't forget! You will need to bring printed versions of multiple forms, descrbed at the below links, in order to be cleared for judging at OSSEF.


    All OSSEF projects will be assessed for compliance with these regulations during the OSSEF check-in period. Projects who do not meet the Display and Safety regulations will need to be modified before they can be cleared for judging.


    OSSEF Display and Safety Regulations - ISEF Rules


    OSSEF Display and Safety Regulations - MS EZ Rules


    Additional Science Fair Board Resources


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