Entry Rules and General Requirements

You can download a PDF of the rules for STEM Expo 7 (March 4th 2017) here.

You can access the category descriptions and rubrics at the Judging Info page.

Note that the text below has been revised for STEM Expo 7, but in the case of any discrepancies, the PDF documents linked above will have precedence.

Entry Rules and General Requirements

——An entry in ANY category must meet these requirements to be considered for judging. ——

1. Registration, Event Entry, and Communications 8. Out-of-area Entries
2. Presentation Display 9. Entry Evaluation and Judging
3. Space Limitations 10. Additional Category Awards
4. Descriptive Document 11. Artistry
5. Presentation Only 12. Parental Involvement
6. Multiple Category Entry 13. Safety Requirements
7. Individual Entries and Team Entries 14. Authority
  15. Major changes since last year
1. Registration, Event Entry, and Communications Top

1.1. Event registration

  • All entries must be pre-registered using the online form at http://www.stemexpo.org/IntentToParticipate
  • Registration is open from 12:01AM January 6th, 2017 until 11:59PM February 27th, 2017 (5 days before the event).
  • Due to the expanded number of entries, no late or onsite registration will be allowed.

1.2. Pre-event communications

  • All registrations must contain a valid email address that will be used to confirm registration and to disseminate information for entrants.
  • A few days prior to the close of registration on February 27th, 2017 all entrants will receive an email reminding them of the event. At this time if the entrant has decided not to participate, we ask that they respond and inform us.
  • Shortly after close of registration (February 27th, 2017) an email will be sent to all participants with their scheduled Entry Review/Interview time for the morning of the event.

1.3. Check-In, Setup, and Teardown

  • All entries must be checked in and receive their title/space locator indicator. Space numbers are distributed during check-in and are on a first come-first serve basis.
  • Check-in occurs Friday evening (March 3rd) and Saturday morning (March 4th). Specific hours are posted on the website.
  • Space numbers are locators for the public and for the judges. In general, the expectation is that the entries will be located within the categories, sequential by number. Note that there is no separation of grade levels within categories.
  • All entries and displays must be picked up at the end of the event on the day of the event. We do not have any on-site storage to hold your display. Any display items larger than a notebook (size based on event clean-up team discretion) will be discarded during clean-up in the hours after the event. 
  • Any small or personal items that are located after the event has closed will be collected and provided to the facility's "lost-and-found" collection. Return and dissemination of those items will be through the campus security office.

1.4. Post-event communications

  • Certificates of participation and completed rubric forms will be available for pick-up at the end of the event.
  • If there are any items (prizes, rubrics, documents) that need to be sent to the entrant after the event is over, it will be sent to the address supplied at the time of registration or check-in.
  • A list of the prize winners and their associations will be posted on the STEM Expo website within a week of the event.
2. Presentation Display Top
  • Each entry must have a descriptive display for the day of the STEM Expo event.
  • The form of the required display is up to the entrant. It can be the common “tri-fold” type presentation board or it can be something else that provides the same functionality.
  • The purpose of this display is to show the visitor the goal of the entry and the various steps or conclusions that were involved.

2.1. Judging and review of display

The presentation display will be evaluated as one of the aspects of judging for the category. As a minimum the following will be reviewed:

  • Display is attractive, easy to read, and the layout is in appropriate logical order.
  • If illustrations, photos, charts or graphs are used, they are appropriate and add to the understanding of the entry.
  • If any visual images are used, appropriate credit must be given and any required copyright clearances must be provided.
  • Any visual aids promote the understanding of the entry.
  • Note that any entry exceeding space limitations (see next section) will be disqualified from any receiving judged award.
  • See item 9 for further information on Judging
3. Space Limitations Top
  • The space for the presentation display is limited to a maximum of 46” wide and 15” deep (there is no minimum size specified). Smaller entries are appreciated. (See below for exceptions for the Rube Goldberg category)
  • There is no height limit, however the display must be safely self-supporting.
  • The display will be placed on a table with other entries, and may hang off of the edge of the table towards the floor. However, it should not extend more than 1” in front of the table, and it should not touch the floor or provide a tripping hazard.
  • If needed, the space underneath the table may be utilized to temporarily store additional supplies, replacement items, etc. However, this must be stored neatly and excessive clutter will not be allowed.
  • Entries must fit within the spaces allowed. Non-compliance will mean disqualification from a judged award.

3.1. Additional space

  • If additional space is needed, some additional floor space is available. However it is limited and must be pre-arranged with the event coordinators.

3.2. Rube Goldberg category exceptions

  • The space for entrants in the Rube Goldberg category is different than the other categories. However, this limitation rule will be strictly enforced – any entry exceeding allowed space will be disqualified.
  • The presentation space is limited to one half (one end) of a standard eight foot folding table (Approx. 30” x 47”)
  • A limited number of larger floor spaces will be available. These spaces will be approximately 4’x7’ in dimension. These spaces will be against a wall with the other spaces beside them (allowing access on one 7’ side).
  • The larger floor spaces are available by reservation by requesting one via email after registration. They are reserved on a first come-first served basis – once the spaces are full, a waiting list may be available in case of cancelations.
4. Descriptive Document Top
  • Each entry may have a descriptive document that is separate from, but shown as part of, the display (See Item 2).
  • For most categories this is an optional item for an entry, but it does show as a positive factor for review.
  • This document’s purpose is to provide the viewers with additional insight into the processes, conclusions, details, etc. of the entry.

4.1. Size and Features

  • There is no limit to the length of the document, however providing extensive extraneous information is not recommended.
  • This document should be grammatically correct, organized and free from spelling errors.
  • If illustrations, photos, charts or graphs are used, they should be appropriate and add to the understanding of the entry.
  • If any visual images are used, appropriate credit must be given and any required copyright clearances must be provided.
  • Any visual aids should promote the understanding of the entry.
5. Evaluation Only Top
  • At the entrant’s request, a project may be entered at STEM Expo for evaluation only. It will not be possible for an entry of this type to win an award.
  • Entries from out-of-area (see item 8) are automatically assumed to be Evaluation Only unless prior arrangements are made with the executive committee.
  • Entries by teams that include parents or other individuals of post-High School ages will be Evaluation Only.
  • Although an entry is for evaluation only, a review time (when an interview can occur) will still be assigned.
6. Multiple Category Entry Top
  • A project can (and should) be entered into more than one category, if appropriate for the entry.
7. Individual Entries and Team Entries Top
  • STEM Expo allows entries by both individuals and by teams.
  • There is no limit on size for a team, however other events (e.g. the California State Science Fair) limit team size to three students.
  • Team entries and Individual entries will be judged with the same rubrics, and there will not be a different award given for a team vs. an individual. However, judges will be aware that teams are involved, and that item will be given consideration.
8. Out-of-area Entries Top
  • An entry is considered to be out-of-area if the entrant (the individual or at least one team member) does not live, or go to school, in Placer County, California.
  • STEM Expo does allow out-of-area entries by individuals or teams.
  • Unless arrangements have been made with the STEM Expo executive board, entries from outside the area will be evaluated as "Evaluation Only" (see item 5).
  • Per arrangement with the California State Science Fair, any entries advanced to that event will only be from Placer County.
9. Judging and Awards Top

9.1. Grade Level Groupings and Awards Quantity

Evaluation and Award groupings are arranged as per the number of entries, so as to provide an appropriate base of entries for the awards.

  • There will be at least one first place award presented in each category.
  • Assuming there are at least 6 entries in a category, there will be at least one second place award.
  • Assuming there are at least 8 entries in a category, there will be at least one third place award.
  • If there are at least 16 entries in a category, that category may be split into grade level groupings as follows:
    • There will be no more than 3 grade groups per category.
    • Groupings by grade level will be based on the ability to assign so that there are at least 8 entries per grade group.
    • Groups will be leveled so that each group will be as large as possible.
    • Examples:
      A. 36 Entries, by grade: 3rd:3 entries, 4th: 18 entries, 5th: 2 entries, 6th: 12 entries, 7th: 1 entry     
           Result: 2 groups - 3rd-4th (21 entries) and 5th-7th (15 entries)
      B. 58 Entries, by grade: 3rd:2 entries, 4th: 3 entries, 5th: 8 entries, 6th: 25 entries, 7th: 4 entries, 8th: 11 entries, 9th: 2 entries, 11th: 3 entries
           Result: 3 groups – 3rd-5th (13 entries), and 6th (25 entries) and 7th-11th (20 entries)
      C. 92 Entries, by grade: 5th: 7 entries, 6th: 65 entries, 7th: 4 entries, 8th: 11 entries, 9th: 2 entries, 11th: 3 entries
           Result: 2 groups – 5th-6th (72 entries) and 7th-11th (20 entries)
  • Regardless of the number or arrangement of Grade Level Groupings entries will still be judged based on age appropriate standards (see next section).
  • In the case where the judges are unable to determine a clear ranking between two entries, ties are allowed and will both be awarded.

9.2. Age Appropriate Ranking

The judges are guided to rank the area on each rubric as appropriate for each grade level within the grouping they are assigned. Assuming that a judge group includes entries of all levels from 3rd to 12th the following would apply.

  • Ranking levels are initially grouped into three age/grade level groups: elementary (typically 3rd–5th), Middle school (typically 6th–8th), and High School (typically 9th–12th).
  • Within the grade level groups, entries are ranked the same. In other words although a 3rd grade entry (elementary) is not expected to be at the same level as a 6th grade entry (middle), 6th and 8th grade entries are both judged at the same level.
  • If a team consists of students in different grade levels, the higher grade level is used for evaluation.

9.3. Rubrics (Evaluation Forms)

  • The judging rubric scale allows for a range of 1 to 5 for evaluation in each of the areas - and judges are able to mark between the following general values: 1. Beginning 2. Developing 3. Acceptable 4. Accomplished 5. Advanced
  • There are two additional indicators in the rubric: NA Not Applicable - used to indicate that the ranking item does not apply to this entry ND Not Demonstrated - Used to indicate that although the judge believes that this item applies to the entry, the information was not presented in the display or documentation.
  • The rubrics will be available for pick-up at the end of the event (after the awards ceremony). Any rubrics not picked up will be sent to the entrant by mail (to the address provided at registration time or at check-in).

9.4. Judge Entry Review and Discussion/Interview

  • All entries will be assigned a specific time for review by judges. The student(s) involved in the entry are invited to be there for a discussion and interview at that time.
  • The interview time is scheduled for a minimum of 5 minutes and is typically 10 minutes in duration. If the student arrives at their display more than 5 minutes past the scheduled start time, the interview may be considered canceled, or may be re-scheduled with the judges or the judging director at a later point, at the judging team’s discretion.
  • The interview is voluntary for the student(s), however it is also recommended. The interview gives the judges the opportunity to consider the depth of understanding by the entrant and clarify any information that is in question.
  • Review times will be assigned after registration closes and the times will be sent to the participant when that occurs. All review times will be scheduled between 8:30AM and 11:30AM
  • ​​Note that if there are specific time periods that are needed due to conflicting schedules with other events, please contact the judging director at least a week before the schedules are released and every attempt will be made to accommodate such a request – however this cannot be guaranteed.

9.5. Judging and Category Evaluation

  • The rubric's scale values do not, by themselves, provide a relative ranking between entries, nor is it a cumulative “score” that determines the winners.
  • There is no actual point value assigned to any specific portion of the rubric. While the various sections are not necessarily weighted the same, an outstanding entry will do well in all of them.
  • The judges will use all three core documents (Category Description, Rubric, and this document) when evaluating the entries.
  • Each project will have areas of greater strength – Judges do not expect those areas to be the same. The intent is to recognize the successes in each project.
  • Note that projects can be disqualified from receiving an award by non-compliance of these rules (including size limitations).
10. Additional Category Awards Top
  • STEM Expo may present awards in additional/special categories beyond the seven standard ones.
  • STEM Expo may elect to include or exclude any or all of these award categories on the day of the event.
  • Entrants are automatically entered into these additional categories when they enter the primary category: no separate entry for the special category is required.
  • There are no rubrics specific to these categories.
  • During the course of judging, the judges may elect to nominate entries into these areas, then a special individual judge or panel of judges will determine the category award after reviewing all the entries.
  • Additional categories are listed in the Category Descriptions and Recommendations document.
11. Artistry Top
  • Although it is a subjective item, artistry is appreciated by the reviewers and is included into the overall rankings.
  • Artistry may include “Art” but it may also be an entry (or a portion of an entry) that reaches beyond an “advanced” level.
  • The Creative Arts Special Award category may used to recognize an entry that has distinguished itself in that field
12. Parental Involvement Top
  • STEM Expo encourages students to work with their parents. However, the work done on any entry that is to be judged and evaluated for an award MUST be done only by the student(s).
  • If a Student/Parent team wishes to enter into STEM Expo, they are welcome to do so in a “Presentation Only” state.
  • In the case of a project which has been entered for competition where there is obvious parental involvement, the Judging Director will disqualify that entry for an award.
13. Safety Requirements< Top

13.1. Limitations

  • No hazardous substances or devices (e.g. poisons, drugs, firearms, weapons, ammunition, and reloading devices) are allowed.
  • No flames, explosives, highly flammable materials, or dangerous chemicals are allowed.
  • No live animals, or human/animal parts or body fluids (for example blood, urine, etc.) are allowed.
  • Any inadequately insulated apparatus producing extreme temperatures that may cause physical burns is not allowed.
  • Any apparatus with unshielded belts, pulleys, chains, or moving parts with tension or pinch points must be inactive and for display only.
  • Project sounds, lights, odors, or any other display items must not be distracting. (Exceptions to this rule may be permitted for judging demonstrations. Approval must be given prior to judging. )

13.2. Electrical Power

  • If electrical power for the exhibit is required, it can be provided if requested in advance, however, it must be used as part of the entry (power will not be provided just for lighting). The amperage available for each entry is very limited.
  • If electrical power is needed, the entrant must provide a suitable extension cord that meets local code requirements.
14. Authority Top
  • All participants (students or adults) must have a signed Consent and Release form to be at the event as a participant. This form is available on the website at http://www.stemexpo.org/participant_info
  • The STEM Expo Executive Board, and/or the Director of Judging reserve the right to remove any project for safety reasons or to protect the integrity of STEM Expo and its rules and regulations.
15. Major changes since last year Top
  • Pick up of all material is now required at the end of the event (section 1)
  • Allowed use of space under the display for storage (section 3)
  • Increased allowed size of Rube Goldberg normal display (section 3.2)