NOTE: There are several New Mexico State specific rules that must be followed.  Confirm with the Important Considerations for the Project Display and the Display and Safety Regulations listed below.

The New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair is an affiliate of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and is bound by the rules governing that organization.  2017-2018 International Rules for Precollege Science Research: Guidelines for Science and Engineering Fairs must be strictly followed.  Complete rules are available from your regional fair office or online at  Listed below is a condensed version taken from the 2017-2018 International Rules for Precollege Science Research: Guidelines for Science and Engineering Fairs.  In addition, there are several State specific rules that need to be followed, please check the Important Considerations for the Project Display below.  

Ethics Statement:  Scientific fraud and misconduct are not condoned at any level of research or competition. Such practices include plagiarism, forgery, use or presentation of other researcher's work as one's own, and fabrication of data.  Fraudulent projects will fail to qualify for competition in affiliated fairs or the ISEF.

Exhibitor Eligibility:  Any student, enrolled in grades 6-12, selected by a regional science fair as a State Science Fair qualifier, is eligible to exhibit at the State Science Fair. In addition, eligibility requirements established by the New Mexico Activities Association apply to all participants.

Team Projects:  TEAM PROJECTS CATEGORY IS NOT OFFERED.  Teams compete in regular categories.  Teams may have a maximum of three members. NOTE: Teams may not have more than three members at a local or regional fair and then eliminate members to qualify for NMSEF.  Team membership cannot be changed during a given research year including converting from an individual project or vice versa, but may be altered in subsequent years.

Adult Sponsors:  Every student exhibitor at the NMSEF must have an accompanying adult sponsor.  Sponsors are responsible for their students during the entire fair.  Sponsors are normally teachers, but may be parents.  One person may serve as sponsor for more than one student.  The Adult Sponsor must review the Students Research Plan (1A) to make sure that:  a) experimentation is done within local, state, and federal laws and the International Rules for Precollege Science Research; b) forms are completed by other adults involved in approving or supervising any part of the experiment; and c) criteria for the qualified scientist adhere to those set forth below. The Adult Sponsor is responsible for ensuring the student's research is eligible for entry in the NMSEF.

Exhibit Size:  The overall dimensions of the exhibit display are limited to 76 cm (30 in) deep from front to back, 122 cm (48 in) wide from side to side, and 274 cm (108 in) high from the floor to the top.  The tables are 76 cm (30 in) high, so table exhibits cannot be higher than 198 cm (78 in) measuring from the table top to the top of the exhibit.  The display may not extend beyond the front or outside edge of the table.

Abstract:  Abstracts should be a maximum of 250-words on one page. The abstract must focus on work done in the current year and should not include: a) acknowledgments or b) work or procedures done by the mentor. At the State Competition any abstracts which are presented in the display area cannot contain the exhibitor's name, address, and school.  Those containing name, address, and school name must be kept in the project notebook. 

Student exhibitors should bring copies of their abstract with them to the State Competition. The abstract which is entered on the on-line registration form will not be available to student exhibitors.  

Project Data Book and Research Paper:  Each student should display a project data book and a research paper. This helps the judges determine consistency and thoroughness.  See ISEF Student Handbook for guidelines and examples.  

Required Forms:  All required forms and appropriate certifications must have been submitted to, and approved by, the regional fair Scientific Review Committee and Institutional Review Board (see International Rules for Precollege Science Research:  Guidelines for Science Fairs).  Every student must have completed a Research Plan (1A), Research Plan Attachment and Approval Form (1B) and review the project with the Adult Sponsor as the Checklist for Adult Sponsor (1). All required forms, certifications, and permits must be available for review at the State Science Fair.  Keep a copy of all your forms in your project data book.

Considerations for the Project Display 

Acknowledgements will be allowed in the research papers or project notebooks, NOT on the display board.The exhibitor's name, address, and school will NOT be allowed on the display board. 
Any abstracts which are presented in the display area cannot contain the exhibitor's name, address, and school.  Those containing name, address, and school name must be kept in the project notebook.
Human Subjects Form (4) or equivalent form provided by a regulated research institution for human subjects of the research, surveys, photographs, etc. (if applicable) are confidential information, must not be displayed, but must be available in the project notebook in case requested for by a judge or other NMSEF official. 
Human Subjects Form (4) signed by the human subject is required for visual images of humans (other than the Finalist) displayed as part of the project.
Display and Safety Regulations:

     Not Allowed at Project

Living organisms, including plants;
Taxidermy specimens or parts;
Preserved vertebrate or invertebrate animals;
Human or animal food;
Human/animal parts or body fluids (for example, blood, urine);
Plant materials (living, dead, or preserved) that are in their raw, unprocessed, or non-manufactured state (Exception: manufactured construction materials used in building the project or display);
All chemicals including water (Exceptions:  water integral to an enclosed apparatus);
All hazardous substances or devices.  (For example, poisons, drugs, firearms, weapons, ammunition, reloading devices, and lasers (as indicated in items 5 in the section of these rules entitled "items allowed at project or in booth but with the restrictions indicated");
Dry ice or other sublimating solids;
Sharp items (for example, syringes, needles, pipettes, or knives);
Flames or highly flammable materials;
Batteries with open top cells;
Awards, medals, business cards, flags, endorsements and/or acknowledgements (graphic or written) unless the item(s) are integral part of the project  (Exception: The current year Science Fair pin may be worn;
Photographs or other visual presentations depicting vertebrate animals in surgical techniques, dissections, necropsies, or other lab procedures;
Active Internet or e-mail connections as part of displaying or operating the project;
Prior years written material or visual depictions on the vertical display board.  Exceptions: the project title displayed in the finalists booth may mention years or which year the project is (for example,"Year 2 of an Ongoing Study").  Continuation projects must have the Continuation Project Form (7) vertically displayed;
Glass or glass objects unless deemed by the Chief Checker to be an integral and necessary part of the project  (Exception:  glass that is an integral part of a commercial project such as a computer screen);
Any apparatus deemed unsafe by the Scientific Review Committee, the Rules Checkers, or NMSEF (for example:  large vacuum tubes or dangerous ray-generating devices, empty tanks that previously contained combustible liquids or gases, pressurized tanks, etc.
     Allowed at Project or in Booth BUT with the Restrictions Indicated

Soil, sand, rock and or waste supplies if permanently encased in a slab of acrylic.
Any paperwork which contains name, address, and school name of the Exhibitor must be kept in the project notebook.  Postal addresses, World Wide Web and e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and fax number of the Exhibitor must be kept in the project notebook.
Photographs and/or visual depictions if: 
a) They are not deemed offensive or inappropriate by the Scientific Review Committee, Rules Checkers, or NMSEF.  This includes but is not limited to visually offensive photographs or visual depictions of invertebrate or vertebrate animals, including humans.  The decision of any one of the groups mentioned above is final.

b) Credit lines of their origin: "Photograph taken by..." or "Image taken from..." are attached.  (If all photographs being displayed are taken by the Finalist or from the same source, one credit line prominently displayed is sufficient.)

c) They are from the Internet, magazines, newspapers, journals, etc., and credit lines are attached. (If all photographs/images are from the same source, one credit line prominently displayed is sufficient.)

d) They are photographs or visual depictions of the Finalist. 

e) They are photographs of human subjects for which signed consent forms are at the project or in the booth (Human Subjects Form 4 or equivalent photo release signed by the human subject must be included in paperwork)
Any apparatus with unshielded belts, pulleys, chains, or moving parts with tension or pinch points if for display only and not operated.
Class II lasers if:
a) The output energy is <1mW and is operated only by the finalist

b) Operated only during Display & Safety inspection and during judging

c) Labeled with a sign reading "Laser Radiation: Do Not Look Into Beam."

d) Enclosed in protective housing that prevents physical and visual access to beam.

e) Disconnected when not operating.
Class III and IV lasers if for display only and not operated
Any apparatus producing temperatures that will cause physical burns if adequately insulated.
Electrical Regulations:

Finalists requiring 120 Volt A.C. electrical circuits must provide a UL-listed 3-wire extension cord which is appropriate for the load and equipment.

Electrical power is supplied to projects and, therefore, the maximums allowed for projects is 120 Volt A.C. single phase, 60 cycle.  Maximum circuit amperage/wattage available is determined by the electrical circuit capacities of the Exhibit Hall and may be adjusted on-site by NMSEF personnel.  For all electrical regulations, "120 Volt A.C." is intended to encompass the corresponding range of voltage as supplied by the facility in which NMSEF is being held.

All electrical work must conform to the National Electrical Code or Exhibit Hall regulations. The guidelines presented here are general ones, and other rules may apply to specific configurations. The on-site electrician may be requested to review electrical work on any project.

All electrical connectors, wiring, switches, extension cords, fuses, etc. must be UL-listed and must be appropriate for the load and equipment.  Connections must be soldered or made with UL-listed connectors.  Wiring, switches, and metal parts must have adequate insulation and over current safety devices (such as fuses) and must be inaccessible to anyone but the Exhibitor. Exposed electrical equipment or metal that possibly may be energized must be shielded with a nonconducting material or with a grounded metal box to prevent accidental contact.

Wiring not part of a commercially available UL-listed appliance or piece of equipment must have a clearly visible fuse or circuit breaker on the supply side of the power source and prior to any project equipment.

There must be an accessible, clearly visible on/off switch or other means of disconnect from the 120 volt power source.

Any lighting that generates considerable and excessive amounts of heat (high-intensity lamps, certain halogen lights, etc) must be turned off when the finalist is not present.
The rules listed above are a condensed version taken from the International Rules for Precollege Science Research:  Guidelines for Science and Engineering Fairs, 2017-2018.   Rules may be found at