The purpose of the CWSF Awards is to reward outstanding scientific and technological achievement and excellence by Canada’s young scientists at the national level and to recognize those national finalists at the Canada-Wide Science Fair whose achievement places them above the rest.
Rigorous judging standards ensure all projects are assessed critically and fairly. All are judged on the following criteria (Judge's Marking Form):
- Scientific Thought
- Originality and Creativity
About 325 judges from University, the public and private sectors, sponsors and regional science fair partners across Ontario volunteer their time to judge the science on display at the CWSF.
Awards include the Special, Interdisciplinary, Challenge, Excellence (medals),and Grand Awards, with nearly $1 million presented as cash, scholarships, travel and other prizes!
Youth Science Canada, with its National Judging Committee (NJC), establishes the criteria for awards, sets the judging standards, oversees selection of the CWSF Chief Judge, recruits award sponsors and organizes the presentation of the awards.
The CWSF Chief Judge recruits and trains judges, coordinates the judging process and selects the Special, Interdisciplinary, Challenge, and Excellence Award recipients. A special Youth Science Canada panel selects the Grand Award recipients from the gold medal winners.
Awards are assigned to the best eligible project on the basis of ranking projects relative to others at the current CWSF.
Award recipients are selected based on the quality of their projects and presentations. Neither formal nor informal selection criteria based on gender or ethnocultural heritage are permitted in the National Awards Program or at the Canada-Wide Science Fair.
These awards are for outstanding projects that meet specific criteria within a particular aspect of science and often reflect the special interests of the sponsoring foundations, companies and professional associations. All Special Awards are cash prizes: $500 for Junior, $750 for Intermediate and $1,000 for Senior.
Self-nomination is not required for these awards. Interviews for these awards are unscheduled, and students may or may not see a judge for one of these awards.
Interdisciplinary Awards are open to all projects in the appropriate grade category and include cash awards, trips, summer internships and other prizes for outstanding projects that meet specific criteria established by the sponsor(s).
Self-nomination is a commitment to accept the award as offered. If you plan to nominate your project for a travel or summer experience award, be sure you do so only after careful consideration and with parent/guardian approval.
Please note: Certain Interdisciplinary Awards involve travel and a commitment to be away from home for an extended period of time, to travel to another country and/or to live in unfamiliar surroundings. All travel involves an element of risk. Foreign Affairs Canada provides advice to international travellers through their website.
Interdisciplinary Awards judges spend approximately 10 minutes with each project. Judges expect to hear a brief (5 minute) summary of the project and why it deserves the award, followed by time for questions.
Self-nomination is required; judges will only consider projects that the finalists have nominated for these awards in the online registration system. The list includes all available Interdisciplinary Awards. A project may be nominated for up to three Interdisciplinary awards. Only those awards for which a project is eligible will appear in the Interdisciplinary Awards area of the CWSF online registration system.
Challenge Awards recognize the top project in each of the 7 Canada-Wide Youth Science Challenges in each grade category. The seven Canada-Wide Youth Science Challenges – Discovery, Energy, Environment, Health, Information, Innovation and Resources – focus on issues that are important to Canadian youth, the future of their country and their world. They are meant to inspire students to exercise their curiosity and creativity by answering a question or solving a problem by doing a science project.
At the CWSF, 3 prizes are awarded - junior ($500), intermediate ($750) and senior ($1,000) - for the best project that addresses each challenge.
During registration, finalists identify the challenge best addressed by their project. Interviews for these awards are unscheduled, and students may or may not see a judge for one of these awards.
Excellence Awards (CWSF medals) recognize science and technology excellence. The judging is a relative process, with medals awarded based on the ranking of consensus scores for each project within a grade category. A total of 70 medals is available in each grade category - junior, intermediate, and senior:
- 10 Gold Medals (including $700 cash)
- 20 Silver Medals (including $300 cash)
- 40 Bronze Medals (including $100 cash)
All medals are normally awarded as judged; however, the awarding of a gold medal requires that the following minimum standard be attained:
- The project demonstrates Level 3 or 4 of Scientific Thought (see Judge’s Marking Sheet).
- Analysis and conclusions are appropriate and based on the data;
- The project demonstrates some knowledge of the relevant background and theory; and
- The project contains no glaring or significant errors.
Each judging team is assigned a specific group of projects in the same grade category. Normally, four different judges evaluate each project. Judging is a three-step process:
First, judges read the Project Reports in advance and, on the evening before judging, view the projects without the finalists being present.
On judging day, each of the four judges meets with the finalist(s) for about 20-minutes. Judges expect to spend approximately 10 minutes hearing a presentation about the project, followed by 10 minutes for questions.
After the finalists have left the exhibit area for the day, each judging team meets to discuss each project and assign a consensus score based on the project level and relative merit of each project. After these scores are compiled, representatives of each judging team within a grade category meet to review the ranked scores and determine the Excellence (medal) and Challenge Award recipients. This step involves considerable discussion among the judges and may require additional viewing of projects without the finalists present. Sponsor representatives may work with the category teams at this time to select the recipients of Special Awards.
Several universities provide scholarships to medal winners at the Canada-Wide Science Fair.
The Grand Awards include two Platinum Awards and the Best Project Award, which are presented to the top three projects at the CWSF - best junior, intermediate, and senior. All gold medalists are automatically considered for the Grand Awards.
Each of the two Platinum Awards includes $5,000 cash and a crystal presentation award.
The Best Project Award includes $10,000 cash and a crystal presentation award, making it one of the most valuable and prestigious awards for youth in Canada.
A special panel of Youth Science Canada appointed judges selects the Grand Award recipients.
Projects are required to pass a safety check before they can be displayed at the CWSF. The safety check involves an inspection based on a Safety Checklist. Once all items on the checklist are approved, a safety check sticker will be applied to your project’s table sign.
- Set up your project in the assigned space, including all items and materials that you plan to display during judging and public viewing. Store all packing materials in the assigned area for your region. Once your setup is complete, inform your delegate that you are ready for a safety check. Your delegate must be available if required.
- Proceed to the safety check area and obtain the Safety Checklist for your project.
- Wait in the designated area with your Safety Checklist until a safety inspector (red vest) greets you.
- Introduce yourself, hand your form to the inspector, and bring him/her to your project.
- The initial inspection should only involve the finalist(s) and the inspector. The inspector’s job is to ensure that your project passes the safety check. If all aspects of your project comply with the safety requirements, the inspection will proceed smoothly and the inspector will place a safety check sticker on your project’s table sign.
- If a safety concern is identified, the inspector may suggest a minor change. Your delegate will be consulted before any change is made. If the change can be made quickly, your project will be approved and the inspector will place a safety check sticker on your project’s table sign.
- For more serious or complex safety issues, a member of the National Science Fair Committee may be consulted. If extra time is required to make the necessary changes, your Safety Checklist will be returned to the safety check area by the inspector. After the required changes are made, return to the safety check area to obtain your checklist and wait for an inspector who will complete the safety check process and then place a safety check sticker on your project’s table sign.
Note: For questions related to project safety at the CWSF, the Chair of the National Science Fair Committee has the final authority.
Each project requires a Project Report of no more than five pages plus an appendix of no more than two extra pages for the references and bibliography. This report comprises a concise summary of the project using a scientific writing style, selecting only what is important and stating it in a concise way. Graphs, diagrams and charts may be included, but not the raw data or observations. The report is submitted online as a PDF document, as part of the registration process
A complete Project Report includes the following subtitles and sections:
- Background: how the project came to be.
- Purpose: why the project was conducted and what was hoped to be achieved.
- Hypothesis: proposition to be tested, if applicable.
- Procedure: a brief outline of the materials and methods used.
- Results or Observations: a summary of the results of the experiment, innovationor study.
- Conclusions: what can be concluded from the results and why it is important.
- Earlier Work: If an earlier version of the project was submitted in a previous year, the finalist must highlight the changes and additional work done.
- Acknowledgements: recognition of those individuals, institutions and businesses that provided significant assistance in the form of guidance, materials, financial support and/or facilities for this work.
- References: Detailed references are mandatory for any specific literature referred to in the text of the report. Key sources used in the development of the project must be referred to in the text and listed in an appendix (“References”), using a format consistent with that accepted in the scientific peer-reviewed literature. Author, title, source publication, volume, date and page numbers must be given. Any use of quotations from references must be clearly identified.
- Bibliography: Significant sources consulted but not specifically referred to in the report must be mentioned (volumes, articles, audio-visuals, documents, web sites with dates of access, interviews, etc.).
Some variation is permitted for innovation and study projects that do not follow an experimental protocol.
The formatof the report will be a maximum of five letter-sized (8.5 x 11 inches) pages as a PDF file. An appendix of an additional two pages is allowed, containing the References and Bibliography. Any additional material will be discarded and will not be distributed to judges. Text shall be in 12-point Times, Arial or equivalent type, double-spaced with margins of 1 inch (2.5 cm) all around. Page 1 shall have the project title and finalist name(s) at the top. A footer in 8-point type is required on each page containing the date, finalist name(s) and project title as well as the page number.
Here is an example:
As is the case with manuscripts submitted for publication in the scientific literature, project reports must be written in good, grammatical English. Composition style, appropriate vocabulary, correct verb tense use, agreement of verbs and their subject nouns in number, and correct punctuation all contribute to the acceptability of the report. Indeed, lack of attention to these writing requirements for project reports may result in the downgrading of the project.
Respectable scientific work for international consumption is recorded using Système international (SI) units, which must be used throughout. Correct abbreviations for units must be used.
Measurements and uncertainty
Most physical measurements have uncertainty. Students should be aware of the concepts of accuracy, precision and uncertainty in measurements, and the methods scientists use to represent them. Data are expected to have the correct number of significant figures, and graphs should have appropriate error bars.
Graphs, Charts and Maps
Captions, labels on axes and legends must be accurate and legible.
The ability to communicate scientific work clearly and succinctly is an important skill; therefore, the five-page limit is strictly adhered to, regardless of the type or complexity of the project.
It is strongly recommended that someone from your regional organization check each project report for length, clarity, completeness and compliance with the formatting requirements.
A copy of the Project Report is provided to each CWSF judge before he/she sees the project or interviews the finalist(s). Not only does the report account for 10 percent of the project evaluation, it is the first encounter a judge has with the project. A concise, well-written report that is free of spelling and grammatical errors makes a good first impression.
Complete details of the elements and requirements of the Project Report may be found in Youth Science Canada policy 188.8.131.52, CWSF Project Report.
Saving the report as a PDF
The Project Report is submitted electronically as part of the online CWSF registration process. It must first be saved as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file, which preserves the appearance of your document regardless of which computer it is viewed on.
Please note: PDF is the only acceptable format for Project Reports.
PDF documents can be made from any document created in Microsoft Word, Works, Publisher, WordPerfect, Pages or any other application you would use to write a report. There are many different ways to create a PDF file from your report document. Here are a few:
- Use Adobe Acrobat Professional, available for Windows and Macintosh.
- Open the document and select Print > Save as PDF on any Macintosh computer running Mac OS X.
- Download the free CutePDF Writer (Windows only) and use it to convert your file.
- Go to Adobeand click “Try it for Free” to sign up and create up to five Adobe PDF files for free.
- Enter “convert to PDF” into your favourite search engine. You’ll find several other free offers for online conversion services.
- Get the local computer expert to do it for you. Your region should be able to help you with this process.
If you have won a place on your regional (or provincial) team to attend the Canada- Wide Science Fair (CWSF) - congratulations!
You will be joining 500 top young scientists from across Canada for a week that will be extremely busy, with activities including project set up and safety checks, judging, ceremonies, tours and social events. There is very little unstructured or “free” time.
Be sure to celebrate this achievement, but remember that this honour comes with certain expectations and responsibilities.
You (and a parent/guardian if you are under 18) are required to sign the CWSF Permission and Release Form acknowledging that you have read and agree to abide by the Youth Science Canada Code of Conduct (Policy 1.5.1) and policy on Academic Integrity (Policy 1.5.5), and to be governed by the Youth Science Canada policies on Discipline (Policy 1.5.2) and Appeals (Policy 1.5.3). Violation of these standards of conduct can result in a CWSF participant being disqualified and/or sent home at his or her own expense.
The CWSF is a great experience and adventure, and it’s fun, too. Thank you in advance for agreeing to meet the above expectations.
Youth Science Canada Code of Conduct
The Youth Science Canada Code of Conduct requires all CWSF participants to:
- Maintain and enhance the dignity and self-esteem of CWSF participants.
- Demonstrate respect for individuals regardless of gender, ethnic or racial origin, sexual orientation, age, marital status, religion, political belief, disability or economic status.
- Direct comments or criticism appropriately and avoid public criticism of finalists, judges, delegates, alternate delegates, host committee members, volunteers, guests, staff and members of Youth Science Canada, among others.
- Demonstrate ethical conduct and practices.
- Abstain from the non-medical use of drugs.
- Refrain from any behaviour that constitutes harassment, that is, comment or conduct, directed toward an individual or group, that is offensive, abusive, racist, sexist, degrading or malicious.
- Refrain from any behaviour that constitutes sexual harassment, that is, unwelcome sexual advances or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.
- Comply at all times with Youth Science Canada and CWSF policies, rules and regulations.
In addition, the Code specifically requires CWSF finalists to:
Support and cooperate with every member of their Regional team.
- Adhere to the expectations set out in writing for them by their delegate(s).
- Attend and participate in all activities, tours and events that are part of the CWSF.
- Be punctual at all CWSF activities and events.
- Attend their displays at all times during the period that the CWSF is open to the public.
- Ensure that their delegate knows at all times where they are and with whom.
- Obtain their delegate’s explicit permission before leaving the group.
- Respect all curfews explained to them by their delegate.
- Get sufficient sleep.
- Understand the consequences of serious misbehaviour as described in Youth Science Canada's Discipline (Policy 1.5.2).
- Respect academic integrity as described in Youth Science Canada's Academic Integrity (Policy 1.5.5).
The Code also specifies that CWSF finalists shall not:
- Visit any areas declared off limits.
- Engage in any activity that will bring the moral tone of the CWSF into disrepute.
- Buy, possess, consume or distribute alcohol or illegal substances and materials (including drugs).
Any finalist who experiences any incident that he or she feels is unwelcome, inappropriate or in violation of the Code of Conduct or Academic Integrity policies should report the matter immediately to their Regional Science Fair delegate or to a CWSF Host Committee member. You can be assured that any complaint will be investigated immediately.
Additional CWSF requirements
Finalists are required to complete the online CWSF registration process, including the uploading of a Project Report and the completion of a Project Abstract and Biography by midnight (local time) at the end of April 30.
Travel & Attendance
Finalists are required to travel to/from the CWSF, be present for the entire week and stay in residence with their regional/ provincial team. Late arrivals or early departures, regardless of the reason, may only be requested by the finalist’s Regional Coordinator and require the written permission of the chair of the Youth Science Canada National Science Fair Committee.
Disqualification may occur prior to or at any time during and after the CWSF for violations of the Youth Science Canada Code of Conduct, Academic Integrity policy or the CWSF policies governing the safety and ethics of student research and project displays. Any finalist disqualified after the fair will forfeit all prizes and monies awarded to him or her. Appeals are governed by theYouth Science Canada Appeals (Policy 1.5.3).
Every project at the CWSF uses the same display unit - an aluminum frame with two white vertical panels, a triangular table, and a header sign pre-printed with the project title and finalist name(s). Use of the CWSF display unit is mandatory - do not bring a backboard of any kind.
The dimensions of the CWSF display unit (accurate to 1cm) are shown on the left below. The diagram on the right illustrates how standard paper pages fit on a display panel when arranged in a grid. Click each image to download a PDF file suitable for printing.
The following information provides a summary of the display requirements. Finalists, delegates, parents, and Regional Coordinators are urged to review the CWSF Project Displays policy in detail when preparing CWSF display materials and before signing the CWSF Permission and Release Form. Some items accepted for display at a Regional Science Fair may not be permitted at the CWSF.
Before being approved for competition at the CWSF, each project must pass an inspection to ensure that the material on display complies with the CWSF Project Displays policy.
Once the project has been approved, no display materials may be added.
Presentation materials must be attached to the white display panels above the table, and may overlap from one panel to the other. Materials may not be attached to the display unit frame, including the header sign.
Adhesives for affixing presentation materials to the display panels will be supplied; no other adhesives may be used. At the end of the CWSF, display panels must be returned to their original condition, with all project materials and adhesives removed.
Although we will have sufficient tape for all participants, you may wish to bring your own supply of 3M Scotch 110 Heavy Duty Mounting Tape, as pictured, which is available in 1.9m rolls at Staples and Home Depot.
Presentation information including text, graphics, photographs and other data on the display panels must be printed on bond paper (laser, inkjet, or standard copier), or photographic paper. Laminated paper is permissible, but discouraged due to the environmental impact.
Construction paper, Bristol board and papers listed above may be used to outline or border presentation information or to add small decorative elements to the display panels.
If you are preparing a large-format poster, Staples will print a 24 x 36 inch page for about $30. A local municipal office, engineering or architecture firm, land surveyor, or university might be able to print a large poster at lower cost.
Finalists are encouraged to bring a USB drive with the files for their presentation materials saved as PDF files.
Papers presented on the table must be secured in a binder, Duo-tang, presentation folder, plastic sleeve or other appropriate enclosure.
Other display materials must comply with the CWSF Project Displays policy, which includes detailed rules for: fire safety; electrical safety; structural and mechanical safety; chemical safety; biohazards; human subjects; animals & animal parts; firearms; and hazardous materials and equipment.
Computers, tablets, and other electronic devices that comply with electrical safety requirements may be used as display materials. Finalists should remove all valuables from their display when the exhibit hall is closed.
A project may be granted additional space to display an innovation that exceeds the capacity of the display unit table. This request must be made by the Regional Coordinator to the Youth Science Canada Zone Representative. The final authority for approval rests with the National Science Fair Committee Chair.
Display Equipment and Damage
Although every effort will be made to prevent damage to exhibits, Youth Science Canada, the Host Committee or other sponsoring organizations or cooperating groups accepts no responsibility for loss or damage to any exhibit or part thereof.
I've been to the CWSF before. How will displays at CWSF 2014 be different?
In previous years, finalists brought their own backboard or used a rental board. Click the link to download a CWSF 2014 Comparison PDF document for more details on the differences.
The Host Committee will ensure that fire extinguishers of proper size and rating are available in the exhibit area and will establish an exhibit hall layout that minimizes long rows to reduce the possibility of flame spread.
Operation of an open flame, candle, torch or any other heating device is not permitted. Smoking is not permitted in the exhibit area.
Packing material shall not be stored under tables.
All AC electrical equipment used in your display must have a functional three-wire plug with ground or be CSA approved. Extension cords, power bars and lighting must be CSA approved.
Electrical cords shall have a three-wire conductor with ground and must be CSA approved and in good repair.
Any modification to an electrical device negates the CSA approval, and that device must not be used. Dry cells (Alkaline, NiCad, NiMH, LiIon, etc.) and sealed lead-acid batteries (gel cells) may be used. Wet cell batteries are not permitted.
Electrical devices constructed by finalists must comply with the following requirements to be approved for display. As they cannot be CSA approved, these devices may only be connected and operated during judging.
- Electrical devices must be protected by a non-combustible enclosure.
- An insulating grommet is required at the point where electrical service enters an enclosure.
- Electrical devices shall use as low a voltage as possible.
- The electric current must be limited so as not to cause any danger or discomfort if the terminals are touched.
- A pilot light must be used to indicate when power is on.
Structural and Mechanical Safety
Exhibits must be sturdy, self-supporting and sufficiently stable to prevent accidental tipping.
Sharp edges or corners of prisms, mirrors, enclosures and glass or metal plates that may be contacted by the public must be removed or protected to prevent injury.
Dangerous moving parts such as belts, gears, pulleys and blades must be provided with a guard to prevent access to the moving parts.
An in-running nip hazard of any part of a motor, device or thing that may be a danger shall be guarded to prevent contact with the pinch point.
A certificate of safety inspection must be displayed if a project involves the construction or use of a boiler or pressure vessel with a capacity greater than 42.5 litres or operated at a pressure greater than 103 kilopascals. Evidence of inspection by an engineer with certification in boilers and pressure vessels should be displayed when the project involves any finalist- constructed pressure vessel, regardless of size or pressure. Such vessels may be displayed but must not be pressurized at any time.
Compressed gas cylinders shall not be displayed.
Moving exhibits (e.g., radio-controlled vehicles, robots) shall be restricted to the regulation display space. The Host Committee may, at its discretion, provide an area to safely demonstrate projects that require more than the regulation display space.
The following materials shall not be displayed:
- Flammable, toxic or dangerous chemicals
- Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications
Photographs or empty packages of prohibited materials may be displayed.
The display of chemicals is discouraged; however, other substances can be used to simulate chemicals for display purposes:
- Table salt can be used to simulate many chemicals, such as ammonium nitrate.
- Water can represent alcohol, ether and many other liquids. Molasses can be used to simulate petroleum products.
- When chemicals are simulated, they should be identified with the name of the substance they represent, preceded by the word “simulated.” Any WHMIS labels (supplier or workplace) should be attached to show understanding of safe work practices.
The total quantity of liquids displayed at a project shall not exceed 1 litre. Photographs and/or video should be used to demonstrate processes requiring larger quantities of liquid.
The following materials shall not be displayed:
- Biological toxins
- Cell or tissue samples including blood and blood products, except on sealed microscope slides, which may be displayed
- Plants or plant tissue
- Soil containing organic material
- Cultures – Photographs or simulated cultures may be used.
When Sir Isaac Newton wrote, “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants,” he was being generous, but he was also being truthful. Good science builds on the work of others and explicitly acknowledges their work.
Youth Science Canada affirms that the pursuit of truth is grounded in certain core values, including diligence, civility and honesty. One of the most important traditions in the scientific community goes hand in hand with honesty, and that is the tradition of academic integrity. Scientists build on others’ achievements. They must be able to trust the integrity of the published literature they build on.
Students want to work in communities where competition is fair, integrity is respected and cheating is not tolerated. Students have significant responsibility to help protect and promote the highest standards of academic integrity. They are expected to respect the best values of their teachers, mentors and parents, and these values include a full commitment to academic integrity. At all science fairs, but particularly at the Canada-Wide Science Fair, students are required to present work that is the result of their own efforts. All assistance received from others must be acknowledged, and all written material that draws on the work of others must be accompanied by appropriate references.
Failure to follow the rules of academic integrity almost always results in disqualification at the CWSF. Specific examples of violations include:
- Plagiarism – presenting the work of others as your own without acknowledging the source. In this case, “work” means scientific results, conceptual development of a topic and substantive formulation or reformulation of a problem. This includes work done by a family member or a mentor. Information on how to properly cite references can be found in CWSF Project Report (Policy 184.108.40.206).
- Fabricating or falsifying data
- Forging signatures
- Fabricating or falsifying registration information
- Entering a project that is either derived from a previous CWSF project, or a continuation or revision of a previous project by the student (or by another), without documentation of the previous work
Students rightly expect their academic work to be fairly and fully assessed. Youth Science Canada will ensure that judging at the CWSF is of the highest professional and ethical standards, without bias or conflict of interest.
Youth Science Canada also works with affiliated regions and other partners to achieve the highest possible standards of judging at all levels of science fairs.
CWSF participants must read the full Youth Science Canada policies: Academic Integrity (Policy1.5.5), Code of Conduct (Policy1.5.1) and Discipline (Policy1.5.2)– before signing the CWSF Permission and Release form or attending the CWSF.
Mentors may be scientists, teachers, parents or, sometimes, other students. When a mentor works with a student in any setting, he or she should always keep in mind that the project is the student’s and not the mentor’s. The mentor’s job is threefold: to assist students in the gathering of background information, to teach students the techniques they will need to test their project’s purpose or hypothesis, and to ensure the safety of all concerned throughout the project.
It is the student’s role, and not the mentor’s, to conceive the project’s specific topic. All data taking must be the student’s own, unless the student does not represent it as his or her own and credits the actual data taker properly. Similarly, analysis of the data is also exclusively the student’s responsibility. When mentors usurp these responsibilities, they deprive students of valuable learning experiences. Boundary crossing of this kind also works to undermine the esteemed ethical values of science fairs in general. Mentors should instead seek to provide solid models for their students, scientifically and ethically.*
Some feel that mentorship confers an unfair advantage on science fair projects. Regional science fairs must be sensitive to these concerns and ensure that judging focuses on students’ scientific thought, understanding and creativity. Some projects involving the use of sophisticated or expensive equipment and exotic materials are scientifically simple and less creative than projects using more common materials. Judges can be unduly impressed by sophisticated equipment or materials and may need guidance to look beyond these to evaluate what science the student has actually done.
- The science fair project is the student’s work. The mentor’s role is to provide advice and guidance, not to take charge of the project.
- A mentor’s time is valuable. The student should be punctual and prepared to make valuable use of his or her time with the mentor.
- If a student is working in the mentor’s lab, then he or she must be given the safety rules and necessary safety training.
- For the protection of the mentor and the student, all meetings should be held in the presence of others during business hours, at the student’s school in the presence of a teacher or staff member, or at another location with a parent or guardian present.
- Students must take the initiative to contact the mentor and make all arrangements, such as transportation, meeting times, provision of supplies, etc.
- The student is responsible for doing all of his or her own work except where safety or regulations prohibit this.
*Adapted from the ethics statement of the Massachusetts State Science Fair, 2005
Youth Science Canada has policies governing the use of human participants, animals (vertebrate and invertebrate) and animal parts in research by young scientists (elementary and secondary school students). Ideally these policies are consulted prior to beginning work on the project; however, even if they have not been, they define what is acceptable at the Canada-Wide Science Fair.
Use of Human Subjects
Participation of Humans in Research - Low Risk
All human participants in scientific research must give Informed Consent, which comprises consent, confidentiality and the right to withdraw. Class surveys of attitudes, beliefs or skill tests, such as “Do my classmates remember better if they read while listening to jazz or hip hop?” may be termed Low Risk, as defined in the Participation of Humans in Research - Low Risk policy.
For Low Risk projects, completion of the simple Participation of Humans - Low Risk (Form 4.1A) is required. Approval by the student’s adult supervisor is usually sufficient to ensure that the appropriate ethical issues have been addressed. Be aware, however, that not all such surveys are low risk. For example, a survey to measure the Body Mass Index of class members could affect participants’ self-esteem and would therefore be classified as Significant Risk.
Participation of Humans in Research - Significant Risk
The Participation of Humans in Research - Significant Risk policy establishes what constitutes a drug and specifies that drugs and invasive procedures may only be used in a science project experiment under the direction of a qualified Scientific Supervisor.
Effective October, 2010, sensory food projects (i.e., those designed only to assess the sensory characteristics of a food or drink), within certain restrictions (e.g., not involving "energy drinks"), are the only ingestion projects considered to be low risk. Significant risk ingestion projects are only allowed at the CWSF if carried out under professional supervision at a laboratory with its own internal Ethics Review Committee, such asa university or hospital laboratory. Projects in which human participants, including the student researcher, are required to consume a substance or apply a substance to the skin must be carefully reviewed for compliance with the indicated Humans in Research policies before any testing begins.
All projects involving human participants in ways other than surveys and skill tests are considered Significant Risk. For Significant Risk projects, the more detailed Participation of Humans - Significant Risk Approval (Form 4.1B) must be completed, and the indicated approval procedures must be followed.
Use of Animals (Vertebrate and Invertebrate)
All experimental care and use of animals in Canada is subject to the requirements of the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), a national, peer-review organization founded in Ottawa in 1968. CCAC documentation states: “Youth Science Canada, amongst its responsibilities, regulates animal experimentation in science fairs.”
Research using vertebrate animals for science fair projects may only be carried out in one of four ways:
- Behavioural studies with positive rewards, without any stress involved
- Any project carried out in a university, medical or industrial laboratory and approved by the appropriate Scientific Review Board
- Experiments on embryos - These experiments are subject to the same rules that apply to the animal producing the embryos. Studies of mammalian embryos are restricted to observation without intervention with drugs or other chemicals.
- Research involving cephalopods (cuttlefish, nautilus, octopus, squid, etc.) must follow the same rules as for vertebrates above. Research on all other invertebrate animals is presently unrestricted, except that the project must have some scientific or educational merit and be judged to be ethical.
The Use of Animals in Research policy establishes what constitutes a drug and specifies that drugs may only be used in a science project experiment under the direction of a qualified Scientific Supervisor.
Form 4.1C Animals - Approval is used to ensure that the appropriate review of projects involving animals has taken place.
Each Youth Science Canada-affiliated region is expected to set up a Regional Science Fair Ethics Committee- even if it’s a committee of only one person - who will undertake to become knowledgeable in the rules and ethical issues surrounding student research.
Stepping Up is a guide for students who have completed a science fair project and competed at a regional or Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF). It is intended to help these students take their project to the next level - to compete for a CWSF medal or a place on Team Canada-ISEF.
The guide is written by alumni of the Canada Wide Science Fair and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Lia D'Abate, Lisa-Marie Assenza, Arif Ali Awan, Tahbit Chowdhury, Jean-Philippe Demers, Eden Full, Cherry Gao, Aaron Hakim, Taneille Johnson, Kartik Madiraju, Nadia Novikova, Mubdi Rahman, Natalie Raso, Nikhita Singh, and Kari Vierimaa) and is a project of Youth Science Canada through its SMARTS and Alumni initiatives. We graciously thank the Conseil de développement du loisir scientifique for their assistance with the translation of this guide into French.
To get started with the guide, choose any of the sections below, or click the "Getting Started with Stepping Up" for more detailed information!
The Principles of Mentoring
When participating in a mentoring relationship, Youth Science Canada asks that all mentors and mentees review these guidelines, in order to develop a rewarding, beneficial relationship for all who are involved.
Youth Science Canada is dedicated to nurturing the scientific impulse, creativity, and dedication amongst Canadian youth - encouraging them to develop scientific and technical knowledge and skills through project-based science. We are inspired by the potential of Canada’s youth to improve the world through science and we make programs and resources to help realize that potential. We recognize that mentorship from those established in the Canadian scientific community can provide an enriching relationship for youth engaged in project-based science, adding to knowledge and experience.
A mentor is a teacher, guide, or advisor who works with an individual who is developing their scientific knowledge and expertise, providing support, insight, and resources from their own scientific background and experience. Mentors encourage and empower youth involved in project-based science to help them succeed and discover their own abilities and passions in a supportive, non-judgemental manner. Mentors provide an environment in which youth may learn and grow, whether that be in a laboratory setting, or virtual communication.
Mentors benefit from their participation by raising their academic and community profile and developing a relationship with a member of Canada’s youth.
It is the student’s role, and not the mentor’s, to conceive the project’s specific topic. All data taking must be the student’s own, unless the student does not represent it as his or her own and credits the actual data taker properly. Similarly, analysis of the data, the write-up of the project, and any public presentation of thereof are also exclusively the student’s responsibility. A student undertaking a mentored project has the responsibility to disclose that her/his project was mentored and by whom.
Responsibilities of Mentors and Mentees:
- Treat your mentor or mentee with respect at all times;
- Commit sufficient time and effort towards your mentorship. Set clear expectations for each other;
- Always communicate in a truthful manner;
- Do not accept/offer any kind of payment for your mentoring relationship
- Maintain the confidentiality of the mentoring relationship
- Read and respect Youth Science Canada's Academic Integrity Policy.
Responsibility of Mentors:
- Support and encourage the goals of your mentee - be enthusiastic and share your love of science;
- Encourage your mentee to maintain high scientific and ethical standards;
- Provide advice, guidance, and access to facilities or equipment not otherwise available to your mentee where possible;
- Ensure that your mentee is an active participant;
- Avoid the intent or appearance of unethical or compromising practice in communications, actions, and relationships;
- Maintain the confidentiality of all ideas, products, and materials that a mentee has, or may develop. Do not use any ideas, products, or materials from your mentee in order to further your academic, business, or financial career;
- Acknowledge any conflicts of interest relative to competitions involving the project to your mentee;
- Do not make inquiries regarding the decisions made by judges in competitions in which the project is entered;
- Refer your mentee to Youth Science Canada for issues or questions that you feel unqualified to answer;
- Always maintain a professional relationship with your mentee.
- For the protection of the mentor and the student, all meetings should be held in the presence of others during business hours, at the student’s school in the presence of a teacher or staff member, or at another location with a parent or guardian present.
Responsibility of Mentees:
- Clearly communicate your goals and needs for your project to your mentor;
- Maintain the confidentiality of the mentoring relationship;
- Communicate regularly and openly with your mentor;
- Complete any tasks you have agreed to do with your mentor in a timely manner; Maintain the confidentiality of all ideas, products, and materials that your mentor has, or may develop.
- Hold all sensitive scientific information provided through the relationship with your mentor in strict confidence.
- Always maintain a professional relationship with your mentor.
Within the National Science Fair Program, the Canada-Wide Science Fair constitutes the national championship round, where finalists from Regional Science Fairs across the country meet and compete.
In bringing Canada’s top young scientists together, the CWSF aims to accomplish two primary goals: to help participants benchmark their scientific and technological achievements against those of peers and to create a positive scientific and social experience for all the young people involved. A secondary goal is to expose other students in the CWSF’s geographic area to peer role models – the best young science and technology minds in the country.
The CWSF takes place in May in a different Canadian city each year. Youth Science Canada-affiliated Regional Science Fairs apply to host the CWSF up to four years in advance.
50 Years of CWSF
Form 4.1A (Humans Low Risk)is required if your project involved the use of human subjects and the project meets the criteria for low risk, as defined in Youth Science Canada Policy 220.127.116.11 - [Participation of Humans in Research - Low Risk] (i.e., the project involves a survey of attitudes and beliefs, skill tests, or observations of behaviour withthe participants’ consent where there is minimal risk to the participant).
Form 4.1B (Humans Significant Risk)is required if your project involved the use of human subjects in an experiment involving significant risk, but the project does not meet the criteria for low risk as defined in Youth Science Canada Policy 18.104.22.168 - [Participation of Humans in Research - Significant Risk].
Form 4.1C (Animals)is required if your project involved any use of animals or animal parts. Refer to Youth Science Canada Policy 4.1.2 - [Use of Animals in Research] for details.
All required forms must be downloaded and completed using the free Adobe Reader software. After the form has been filled out on the computer, it should be saved and then uploaded to the online registration system.
To upload the saved form, go to the "Project Forms" area and then click the "Browse" button below the red “No file uploaded” message bar. Locate and select the saved form,and then click “Open” to confirm your selection. (If you have done this correctly, text showing the file location will appear in the box to the left of the "Browse" button.) Finally, click the "Save and Upload Forms" button to upload the file.
After any project form has been saved and uploaded, it must be printed and then signed as required. Bring the signed form(s) to the CWSF as they will be verified during the Safety Check. Unlike previous years, these project forms should not be faxed or mailed in advance of the CWSF.