Important Dates & Times

Sunday November 01, 2020 at 12:00 PM
Wednesday February 24, 2021 at 11:59 PM
Saturday March 20, 2021 at 7:30 AM
Saturday March 20, 2021 at 4:30 PM
Monday March 08, 2021 at 12:00 PM
    • The Science Fair Safety Committee will disqualify any project deemed unsafe.
    • All project displays must adhere to all County, State, and federal laws for public safety. Projects must sustain their own weight and be displayed on tables.  Projects must adhere to display rules for both the California State Science Fair and the ISEF.
    • Students must  present a short video presentation of their project board.  Students whose projects advance to a second round of judging must be available on Saturday, March 20,  during the interview period.   For team projects, the video presentation must include all team members.
    • The student’s original laboratory notebook data must be included in the PowerPoint presentation that is uploaded.  Every step/material/result/analysis needs to be included in the journal presentation.  It should all be entered as the experiment progresses, not all at the end.  A photo of your project display board should also be uploaded. 
    • No hazardous materials may be exhibited. This includes, but is not limited to, acids, glassware, mercury (including glass thermometers), hazardous microbes, carcinogenic and radioactive materials, open flames, foodstuffs which may attract pests, and water.   
    • No displays may include water.
    • Displays may not contain any living organism. This prohibition includes all animals, plants, and studied collections of microscopic life forms such as bacteria, fungi, and molds. The display of preserved animals is not permitted. Projects may not display photographs of procedures detrimental to the health and well-being of vertebrate animals. Photographs of surgical procedures may not be exhibited.
    • Projects will be assigned a project number and may be reclassified by the Scientific Review Committee if not listed in the correct category.   Please  verify that the project is classified properly as a Junior Division (grades 6-8) or Senior Division (grades 9-12) project.
    • All projects must clearly distinguish between the work of the student participant and the work of others.  Students participating in a research opportunity in industry, a university, hospital, or institution other than their school, must display only their own research.  
    • All project boards and presentations MUST include conclusions for consideration. 
    • Valuable equipment such as a laptop may be part of the display only if the student participant accepts full responsibility.
    • All Senior Division Projects must submit the required ISEF forms on this site prior to March 5.

If you have questions or need further information, please contact:

William Franzell, or Norma Esparza,

About Page

The annual Monterey County Science & Engineering Fair showcases students in Monterey County who will become our future scientists, technology experts, engineers, and mathematicians.  This competition celebrates achievement by middle and high school students supported by their parents, teachers, and schools.

Through the fair competition, hundreds of the county's students are challenged to go beyond their classroom studies to do independent project-based research.  They work independently or in teams to address questions in the fields of Computer Science, Environmental Science, Medicine and Health, Chemistry, Biology and several other categories. 

The Monterey County Science & Engineering Fair is a collaborative effort that is sponsored by the Monterey County Office of Education, the Naval Postgraduate School Foundation, California State University Monterey Bay, and many community sponsors.  It is affiliated with Society for Science and the Public, and may select projects to advance to compete in the California State Science & Engineering Fair and the International Science & Engineering Fair. 

Every student is celebrated and encouraged by other students, parents, teacher, mentors, sponsors, and judges. 

Students present projects in the Junior Division (6th - 8th grades) and the Senior Division (9th- 12th grades) in multiple areas of study.  Fair participants are drawn from public, private, parochial and home-schools in Monterey County.  

2021's fair will be a virtual fair.  Judging will begin on March 8 with final judging on March 20.  Winners will be announced on Sunday, March 21.



What to Expect During the Fair

Judges will begin preliminary review of projects on Monday, March 8.

The deadline and instructions will be announced soon for uploading a short video presentation, a photo of your project board, and a PowerPoint narrative showing the data presented and your explanation of your hypothesis, abstract, etc, etc, etc, etc.




Animal Sciences
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.
Cellular and Molecular Biology
The study of the structure and formation of cells.
The science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter.
Computer Science
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.
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.)
Energy and Transportation
The study of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, clean transport, and alternative fuels.
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: 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 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.
Environmental Sciences
The analysis of existing conditions of the environment.
Mathematical Sciences
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.
Plant Sciences
Study of plant life, including their structure and function, life history, growth, interactions with other plants and animals, classification, and evolution.

Judging Criteria


1. Project Idea

What is the overall quality of the project idea: the research question, the hypothesis to be tested, the problem to solve, or the proof or computer program to be constructed?

  • Needs Improvement (0; C): The project lacks a clearly stated project idea or has an idea inconsistent with science (e.g., unfalsifiable). Conversely the project idea may be so commonplace it appears the student lacks independent motivation to think scientifically and instead simply copied it from a website (e.g.,
  • Developing (1; B): The project has a clearly stated project idea. While it's a commonplace hypothesis and possible to find similar ones online, the student did try (e.g., small twist on something from
  • Achievement (2; A): The project has a clearly stated project idea demonstrating independent effort and decision-making from the student. The hypothesis may not be especially creative, but comes out of the student genuinely asking, "why?" or "how?" about something he or she cares about.
  • Exceptional (3; A+): The student was independently motivated and clearly thought deeply about the hypothesis. The hypothesis might be especially creative. The hypothesis may have begun with a passion to solve a pressing real-world problem. The hypothesis may have begun as a vague idea of the student's, but then he or she found mentors to help refine it to address a genuinely meaningful question within the field.


2. Presentation within the Scientific Context

What does the student know about the relevant science and about how to present science? How well did he or she execute this knowledge by finding background research (e.g., literature review) and creating a poster?

  • Needs Improvement (0; C): The poster was sloppy and disorganized. No consideration is made for what scientists know about the topic.
  • Developing (1; B): The poster was put together with care and shows reasonable organization on a "global" level (e.g., introduction, method, results, discussion). However, the student did not carefully plan how to best convey information within each section (e.g., table vs. figure). The project references relevant scientific concepts, but only in ways you would expect to be in standard school curriculum.
  • Achievement (2; A): The poster was put together with care, is well organized, and care was taken within each section to convey information well. The student clearly learned more about the relevant scientific concepts than would be expected in standard school curriculum and the student presents their study in the context of prior scientific work (e.g., by citing secondary sources).
  • Exceptional (3; A+): The student learned about the relevant science to a depth clearly beyond standard school curriculum. He or she has understood sophisticated lay person sources (e.g., Scientific American). He or she "muddled through" some primary sources enough to cite within the poster. The poster showcases the scientific process at its best with attention to detail. The poster is well organized (e.g., introduction, method, results, conclusion) and each section shows careful consideration (e.g., clear rationale behind the design of figures).


3. Research Methodology

How did the student find out if his or her hypothesis is supported by the evidence? Was it an appropriate method? Was care taken to avoid common methodological mistakes? Did the student consider different methodological approaches? Was sufficient data collected?

  • Needs Improvement (0; C): The method does not align with the hypothesis. There are serious methodological errors (e.g., confounds, non-random assignment). Few measurements are made. Measurements taken lack sufficient care.
  • Developing (1; B): While the student does not understand the nuance about the many choices made, the research methodology is appropriate for testing the hypothesis. The operational definitions are adequate, if obvious. The data collected may or may not be sufficient to test the hypothesis, but the amount of data collected demonstrates a genuine effort to test the hypothesis.
  • Achievement (2; A): The student conducted a study carefully following the scientific method with good methodological choices, good measures for operational definitions, and sufficient data. The method is well executed, if perfunctory. The student can explain methodological choices but may not realize other choices were possible.
  • Exceptional (3; A+): The student repeatedly measured the phenomena so sufficient data was collected to test the hypothesis. The research method addresses the hypothesis while avoiding common mistakes (e.g., confound, non-random assignment). The student can articulate a rationale for why he or she chose one research method over another (e.g., observation vs. experiment; between- vs. within-subject). The method is either impressively sophisticated or creative. For example, the student may have used specialized equipment to measure an operational construct or found a creative way around a methodological stumbling block.


4. Results & Interpretation

How does the student summarize his or her results? How does he or she connect the results to the hypothesis? How does he or she interpret the results in the larger scientific context and how does he or she see limitations in how much we can interpret the results?

  • Needs Improvement (0; C): The project either does not present results or simply provides all the raw data without summary. Whatever summary a student presents, it is either inappropriate to test the hypothesis or incorrect (e.g., math mistake when calculating average).
  • Developing (1; B): The project includes a summary with basic mathematics (e.g., mean) though the student may have trouble seeing how the summary connects with the hypothesis. The student does not necessarily understand what the results mean for the hypothesis (e.g., over-interpretation of chance).
  • Achievement (2; A): The student carefully considered how to summarize data with basic mathematics (e.g., mean, mode, median, standard deviation). The student connects the results with the hypothesis reasonably, though possibly not perfectly, and has some understanding of the generalizability and limitations when interpreting the results.
  • Exceptional (3; A+): The student carefully considered how to summarize data to test his or her hypothesis. The students' analysis goes beyond the basics and uses more sophisticated mathematics (e.g., t-test, correlation, best-fit equation). The students knows if the results support or refute his or her hypothesis. The student recognizes how much you can generalize your interpretation of the results and how the interpretation may be limited (e.g., correlation vs. causality).


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