Participation and Safety Rules
1. For a list of Greater San Diego Science & Engineering Fair Rules, go to GSDSEF Rules.
2. The Greater San Diego Science & Engineering Fair adheres to 2020-2021 ISEF Rules and Guidelines. For a complete list of ISEF Rules and Regulations, go to: 2020-21 ISEF Rules and Guidelines.
Since 1955, the GREATER SAN DIEGO SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING FAIR (GSDSEF) has provided an inspiring experience in science and engineering for tens of thousands of San Diego and Imperial County students, motivating them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This regional competition challenges students to go beyond classroom studies to do independent research – to ask compelling questions, to design and implement innovative solutions, and to present and defend results to judges who are professionals in their fields.
Projects in this year's GSDSEF will be available for viewing from Friday, March 19 onward.
Parents and teachers may make accounts in zFairs starting on March 19 to view the Showcase.
To view the Showcase, click on Fair, then Showcase.
So this year it's actually Days of the Fair, at the virtual GSDSEF!
- Monday morning, March 15th (all projects)
- Monday afternoon, March 15th (some projects)
- Tuesday morning, March 16th (some projects)
General Guidelines For All Sessions
- Make sure you know your judging times, and have notified your parents and teachers of these times--no surprises.
- If you are in school, make sure you have a quiet, private place to go to do the interview--not in a classroom with other students.
- Have your project notebook with you, in case you are asked about it (or to show it).
- If possible, have any models, prototypes, demonstrations, etc with you (optional).
- Wear nice school clothes for judging. Even though the judging is virtual, your appearance is important.
- Make sure your computer is working and has a good connection to the Internet. It is STRONGLY recommended that you use a computer, or perhaps tablet, and not a phone.
- If you are using a school computer, make sure your school district allows you to connect to the gsdsef.zfairs.com website: log in to your account from there in the week before the Fair.
- Each interview will last 10-15 minutes.
- During the interview, the judges will ask you questions about your project. You may use your Slidedeck--either digital or hardcopy-- as a prompt. Do NOT read directly from your Slidedeck. If you made a video, the judges have probably already viewed it, so you can refer to it, but play it during the interview only if it is critical to the understanding of your project--on a separate device.
- Know where to access your judging room in zFairs for your virtual interviews. Go to: zFairs-->Virtual Contest--> Enter Virtual Judging/Interview. A few minutes before the designated time of each interview, click on the button to enter the judging room. You will be allowed in by the judges. Do not be late. Interviews are tightly scheduled (and cannot be rescheduled), and there are no make-ups. If you miss an appointment, just make sure you're on time to the next one.
What to Expect on the morning of Monday, March 15th, 2021 (Category Judging, all projects)
- You will be scheduled for 2-3 interviews, with 2-3 judges per interview.
- Category judging will start at 8:20am and end at 11:40am. Judging appointments start every 20 minutes (:00, :20, and :40 past the hour), and your start times could fall at any point between 8:20 and 11:20. Again, notify teachers and parents of your judging interview times.
- Final Monday morning judging appointments will be posted in zFairs by 9pm on Sunday, March 14th, on your Virtual Contest page. Any appointments that you see prior to that deadline are subject to change, so you must check back after Sunday at 9pm to see your final Monday morning schedule.
- Be sure not to confuse your Monday and Tuesday morning appointments!
What to Expect on the afternoon of Monday, March 15th, 2021 (Grand Award Judging, some projects)
- A small number of projects in both the Junior and Senior Divisions will advance to Grand Award judging in the afternoon, based on nominations from the Category Judging in the morning.
- If your project is selected for Grand Award judging, you will be scheduled for 3 Monday afternoon interviews, with 2 judges per interview. If not, you are finished for the day after the morning judging above.
- Grand Award judging will start at 1:20pm and end at 4:40pm. Judging appointments start every 20 minutes (:00, :20, and :40 past the hour), and your start times could fall at any point between 1:20 and 4:20. Again, notify teachers and parents of your judging interview times.
- Grand Award judging appointments will be posted in zFairs between 12:30-1:00pm, as soon as they are available, on the selected students' Virtual Contest page. Please be patient, because some Grand Award nominations will only just have been entered as late as 12:10pm!
What to Expect on the morning of Tuesday, March 16th, 2021 (Professional Society and Special Awards Judging, some projects)
- Separate from the Category and Grand awards that are judged on Monday, many professional societies give awards, and the GSDSEF also gives special awards.
- Most of these awards are given based on judging interviews, held on the Tuesday morning.
- If you are selected as a finalist for any of these awards, you will be scheduled for up to 11 Tuesday morning interviews.
- Professional Society and Special Award judging will start at 8:00am and end at 12:00pm (though this may be extended another hour to 1:00pm). Judging appointments start every 20 minutes (:00, :20, and :40 past the hour), and your start times could fall at any point between 8:00 and 11:40 (unless we do extend another hour). Again, notify teachers and parents of your judging interview times.
- Some projects may be selected as a finalist for multiple awards, so we will take care to deconflict your schedule, so that none of your interviews are scheduled at the same time.
- Final Tuesday morning judging appointments will be posted in zFairs by 9pm on Sunday, March 14th, on your Virtual Contest page. Any appointments that you see prior to that deadline are subject to change, so you must check back after Sunday at 9pm to see your final Tuesday morning schedule.
- Be sure not to confuse your Monday and Tuesday morning appointments!
We look forward to seeing you at the GSDSEF Awards Ceremony, on Thursday, March 18th, 2021!
This "category" is for judging practice only
Study of animals and animal life, including their structure, function, life history, interactions, classification, and evolution.
Behavioral and Social Sciences
The science or study of the thought processes and behavior of humans and other animals in their interactions with the environment studied through observational and experimental methods.
The study of chemical substances, interactions, and processes relevant to living organisms.
The science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter.
The study of information processes, the structures and procedures that represent processes, and their implementation in information processing systems. It includes systems analysis and design, application and system software design, programming, and datacenter operations.
Consumer Science/Product Testing
Earth and Planetary Science
The study of sciences related to the planet Earth (Geology, minerology, physiography, oceanography, meteorology, climatology, speleology, sesismology, geography, atmospheric sciences, etc.)
Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical
The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, processes, and systems.
Engineering: Energy and Transportation
The study of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, clean transport, and alternative fuels.
Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering
The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical machines and systems.
Environmental Sciences & Management
The application of engineering principals to solve practical problems of managing mans' interaction with the environment with the goal to maintain and improve the state of an environmental resource affected by human activities.
The study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols. The deductive study of numbers, geometry, and various abstract constructs, or structures.
Medicine and Health Sciences
The science of diagnosing, treating, or preventing disease and other damage to the body or mind.
The study of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and pathogens.
Physics and Astronomy
Physics is the science of matter and energy and of interactions between the two. Astronomy is the study of anything in the universe beyond the Earth.
Study of plant life, including their structure and function, life history, growth, interactions with other plants and animals, classification, and evolution.
About Categorical (Morning) Judging
The Greater San Diego Science & Engineering Fair is an exciting and important San Diego community event that relies entirely on the generosity of our community's volunteers. The Fair will usually have hundreds of science and engineering projects on display along with the hundreds of 6-12th graders who produced them.
Being a judge is actually a lot more fun than it sounds. It mostly requires listening to enthusiastic young kids tell you what they did.
For anyone new to judging, there is a great deal of advice regarding "how to judge" and "what kinds of questions to ask" (see links below). Also, judging is done in teams, so there are typically experienced judges to assist someone new, should that need arise.
Most of the projects are done by 7th and 8th graders, so you don’t need to be a PhD (although we do appreciate having PhD’s on our judging teams). You do need a background in science, math, computers or engineering and a good knowledge of the scientific method.
Please complete the Judging Registration to volunteer!
Grand Award (formerly Sweepstakes) Judging
These are the very best projects in the Fair. Projects recommended for Grand Award consideration are reviewed by teams of our most experienced judges during the afternoon judging session. (7 or more years of experience are required. Grand Award judges must be willing to judge until at least 4PM.) Four Grand Award and four Runners-up are selected in both Junior (6th -8th grade) and Senior (9th -12th grade) Division.
Professional Society Judging
Some 100 Professional Societies and other organizations present awards at the GSDSEF. Each provides its own judges and sets its own criteria for awards.
In order to participate, one person for the Professional Society must agree to act as a point of contact for the GSDSEF. This person is responsible for recruiting judges for that Professional Society, and reporting their selected winners to the GSDSEF. Awards may be then left with the GSDSEF for distribution directly to students, or the Professional Society may arrange another method to present their awards.
For more information, or to sign up your Professional Society, please contact email@example.com