Before you start
Before doing anything, get familiar with the important stuff.
How to enter
Let's start by following some important information. Download the PDF to view instructions and don't forget to hang up this poster to remind students how to enter.
Before You Start
The Google Science Fair is a global online competition for students ages 13 to 18. We’re thrilled you’ve decided to take part, so here’s what happens next.
First things first, do you have a Google account? If not, you’ll need to sign up for a free one. Once you have your account, you can register for the competition.
After registering, please read through all the competition information below. We’ve got a ton of resources to help you get your idea off the ground and give you the best chance of winning. Take a look before you start. You never know, it could make all the difference.
What are the most important things to know? Here are our top ten tips.
1. Follow the rules.
Review them carefully before you start your project. That way you won’t overlook anything and risk having to make big changes, or even get disqualified.
2. Don’t procrastinate.
Plan your project timeline carefully and give yourself a buffer. That way, if any issues arise (technological or otherwise), you won’t have to panic about running out of time.
3. Stay safe.
Sorry, but certain experiments simply aren’t allowed and if you don’t follow our guidelines you’ll be disqualified. Avoid danger - make sure you read the experiment guidelines.
4. Get parental consent.
Submit permission forms from parents or guardians for all your team members before the deadline, or we won’t be able to judge your project. Learn more here.
5. Go public.
If you’re submitting YouTube videos and Google Slides presentations and want the judges to see their brilliance, make sure to set their share options to “Public.”
Once you’ve uploaded your video to YouTube, go to “My Videos.” Select yours, click on the Actions drop down menu, and then choose “Public.”
Open your presentation in Google Slides, click on “Share” (on the top right), click “Get shareable link,” and confirm that it is set to “Anyone with the link can view.
For more information on using Google Slides or YouTube, read more in the FAQ.
6. Think like a judge.
Read the criteria to find out how our judges will evaluate your project.
7. Use Google tools.
Our tools (including Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive and Hangouts) are designed to help you collaborate. Use them to share ideas within your classroom and across the world.
Some ideas aren’t best conveyed by text alone. You can enhance your project site with graphs, charts, images and videos. Just make sure everything is publicly viewable.
8. Use only your own work.
Plagiarism means passing off other people’s words, ideas or work as your own. There’s no other way to say this: it’s a very bad thing to do and will get you disqualified instantly. If you need help with any aspect of your project (say, from a teacher, parent or mentor), that’s fine; just include that person’s name -- and mention how they helped you -- in the Acknowledgements section. In other words, say thank you. You’ll be following the rules and showing off your impeccable manners, too.
9. No logos or music, please--and only your own images and videos.
Sorry, logos and music aren’t allowed. Images and video are fine, as long as you created them yourself.
10. P.S.: Have fun!
Sure, you should work hard. But think of this as a great opportunity to explore one of your passions. Enjoy this time to think independently, publish your work online, and share big ideas with the global science community (a pretty cool opportunity, if you ask us.)
Find a Mentor
While it's not a competition requirement, mentors can help you with your project!
Many of our previous Google Science Fair finalists and winners had trusted adults helping them with their project. A mentor doesn’t have to be a science expert or a lab technician, but s/he should be interested in what you’re learning and testing. Mentors come from all different places including your family, school, community group or even in a different country!
If you'd like more information about STEM mentors after reading this, head over to Science Buddies to help you with your search for a mentor superstar.
Why is a mentor important?
- Give you access to a lab for your research.
- Explain difficult concepts, which can save you a great deal of time and frustration.
- Help you with troubleshooting your experiment or providing instruction on techniques and equipment.
- Help you learn more about the cutting-edge research in your field, i.e. the research that has not yet been published but is still important to know for your own project. This new research could be essential to doing your experiment or knowledge of the new area might be considered necessary when discussing your work with others.
- Make sure you are interpreting your results and the results of others correctly (such as from a research paper).
- Coach you about how to present your findings in a way that will be favorably received by other scientists who will be your judges.
- Show you what it is like to be a scientist. If you want to see what a career as a scientist is like, this is a great opportunity to learn more.
Where can you find a mentor?
Talk to the faculty at a nearby college, university, or research institute. Make sure to ask around!
Often times there is research going on in your area that you do not know about. Search online, ask your teachers, look through the phone book, etc.
Mary Lou O'Donnell, a teacher from Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School in New York, whose students are frequent participants at international science fairs contact researchers at nearby institutes to help them complete their projects.
You can also contact judges from a previous science competition or a someone who wrote a science article in your field.
So, how do you find a mentor?
These are the steps that Mrs. O’Donnell recommends from her experience with her students. With a little modification, these steps can also be used to contact a mentor who is not nearby (do a phone interview instead of a meeting, and so forth). And, Ms. O'Donnell adds, "Advice for teachers: Students must find their own mentors! It's the only way they'll appreciate the mentor. This advice comes from many times when I've mentored kids and they come back complaining about my choice, the lab, etc. Mentors respond when contacted by motivated students, not by motivated teachers."
When finding a mentor always ask permission from your parent or legal guardian and make sure they know who you are talking to and meeting.
- Determine your general areas of interest: physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, astronomy, etc.
- Search nearby research university websites for scientists in the departments of these schools. Ms. O'Donnell states: "We steer our students to university professors. We have had private psychologists, doctors, and engineers work with students, but find that the level of research is usually not high enough." You want someone who is actively publishing research in his or her field, or in engineering, someone working directly on cutting-edge products or techniques in the area.
- At the department webpage for the university, bring up the faculty biographies. Read through them all, noting the email addresses or contact information for those you are interested in.
- Once you've gathered 20-30 professors' biographies, research them one by one. Prior to contact, you must find recent articles written by the potential mentor.
- Draft a personalized email in which you identify yourself, your school, and identify specifically what interested you about the scientist's research. Request a meeting so you can speak more about his or her research. You might also ask him or her to distribute your request throughout the department if he or she cannot help you. One of his or her colleagues might be looking for a student with whom to do research.
- Have someone proofread and edit the letter, then mail it out and cross your fingers! Note that you might go through numerous rejections until you find someone who wants to help you. Keep meeting and calling people! Eventually, you should be able to find a potential mentor. Often, the response to the email alone is only 33%-50%, so don't lose hope if only a few potential mentors reply. Positive responses range from less than 10% to as much as 33% (determined by asking a few fellow students involved in research).
Keep in mind that you can Ask a Scientist during any step of your project if you need a little help. The scientists love working with dedicated students and are a valuable resource for anyone working on a project!
Still need a little help?
Feel free to check out our list of educational organizations who help students find science mentors. Please note: Entrants and their parents are ultimately responsible for pursuing and vetting potential mentors. Google will not be involved in any arrangement made between an entrant and a mentor or one of the organizations listed. Be sure to let them know you’re a Google Science Fair participant.
Official guidelines and tips for running your experiment.
We want you to have fun experimenting and discovering new things, but we want you to stay safe doing it. So before doing anything, read through and make sure you stick to the official rules. If your project doesn't follow the rules, it will be disqualified.
If you’re not familiar with the Scientific Method or the Engineering Design Method (or you need a quick refresh) the Student Pack is a good place to start. It’ll help you shape your scientific question and, when you’re ready, get things heading in the right direction.
Starting a science project can sometimes feel a bit daunting at first. The trick is to think big but start small.
Building your project site
How to make your project site stand out and how to submit it.
In order to submit your project and results, you will need to build a project site. It's easy and all done within your Dashboard here on GoogleScienceFair.com.
Below are some things to think about as you build your project site, plus a few tips to make it stand out and give you a chance of scooping a prize.
Before you hit submit...
Make sure you've carefully reviewed the Official Submission Checklist. You can always make changes to your project until the submission deadline.
And make sure to click submit!
Worried your project's not amazingly impressive? We aren't, and can't wait to see what you've tried to make better.
The criteria judges use to evaluate your project.
One of the questions you’re probably thinking is, what happens now that my project has been submitted?
The highest-scoring projects from the first judging round will be reviewed closely before we announce the 100 Regional finalist projects. From that group, judges will then select finalists from the top 16 projects across the globe to join us in Mountain View, California to compete for the Grand Prize.
Below you can find the criteria judges will be using as they evaluate your project.
Judging for special prizes
Community Impact Award
The Community Impact Awards, honor five projects that can make a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge. Submissions should be innovative, easy to put into action, and able to be expanded to other communities. All participants will be considered for this award as part of the main judging process.
There will be a winner in each of these five regions, announced at the same time as the regional finalists:
- Africa and the Middle East
- Asia and the Pacific
- Latin America
- North America
The Inspiring Educator Award
The Inspiring Educator Award honors the contributions of one outstanding educator who goes above and beyond to encourage their students to achieve great things. Nominate your educator today when you submit your project!
What happens after the submission deadline passes?
After the competition closes, make sure to stay in touch! We’ll be having lots of great Hangouts and other events up until the announcements.