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Frequently Asked Questions

The Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair (SASEF) is the premier science and engineering competition for students in middle and high school for a 23-county service area of East Tennessee. SASEF has promoted teaching the scientific method in science, engineering, and math since 1952.

Visit the about us page for more information.

In 2024, SASEF is scheduled to be held Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in the Student Union on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus. The awards ceremony is scheduled to be held Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Strong Hall Room 101, Cumberland Ave on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus.

Visit our online registration page for all the information and tools you need to register.

SASEF is open to middle and high school students in a 23-county region of East Tennessee. Students are able to present their scientific research from January of the previous year to February of the current year.

SASEF is open to both individuals and teams of students. The Junior Division allows 3 participants to a team and the Senior Division allows 2 participants to a team.

Find out what counties are eligible by going to the about us page here.

The Southern Appalachian Science and Engineering Fair is open to all students in grades 6 through 12.
Students will be participating in 2 divisions:

Junior Division (grades 6 – 8)
Senior Division (grades 9 – 12)

Each division is separated into 18 categories:

(AS) Animal Sciences
(BE) Behavioral and Social Sciences
(BI) Biochemistry
(CB) Cellular and Molecular Biology
(CH) Chemistry
(CS) Computer Science
(EA) Earth and Planetary Science
(ET) Energy and Transportation
(EE) Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical
(EN) Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering
(EM) Environmental Management
(EV) Environmental Sciences
(MA) Mathematical Sciences
(ME) Medicine and Health Sciences
(MI) Microbiology
(PH) Physics and Astronomy
(PS) Plant Sciences
(RO) Robotics and Intelligent Machines

Students may present work for their project which includes no more than 12 months of continuous research and may not include research performed over 18 months from the time of the International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in May.

A typical student SASEF project timeline can be found on this page.

Entry is typically due by the end of February. A non-refundable fee is required for each participant, not project (fee typically ranges from $10-30 depending upon the date it is paid). There is no guarantee that late projects will be allowed to be displayed or judged.

Please note that project pre-approval may be required several months prior to the February deadline for projects including human or animal subjects or hazardous materials. Please visit the online registration page and read “Step 3” for more information.

It is possible that your project may require pre-approval several months prior to the February deadline. Make sure you visit the online registration page and read “Step 3” for more information on the pre-approval process. You may not begin experimentation until your project has passed the pre-approval process.

The most commonly asked-about items that should not be on your poster board brought to display or in your research documents/binder at the SASEF competition.  The list below is in addition to the list that can be found on page 26 of the ISEF rule book found here.

Your last name

Your school’s name

Pictures of a person’s face other than the student’s own face

No liquids

No food

Nothing living or once living

To display properly at the SASEF fair, we recommend the poster be 36 inches wide by 24 inches high.  You can use the poster template HERE.

Check out the Display Guidelines Packet for more information on designing the poster.

Research Project Reports are created to sit in front of the poster and are for judges to view to get a better understanding of the student’s research in full.

In the Junior Division, it is very much the extended abstract that includes: abstract, hypothesis, objectives, procedure, results, and conclusions (like a lab report). SASEF has created a Junior Division Research Plan (PDF / Word Doc) to assist with the creation of students’ project reports.

In the Senior Division, you need to download the ISEF Form 1A Research Plan/Project Summary. This will give a breakdown of what is needed on the Senior Division level in the student’s Project Report.

It is important to note, that the journal that they are putting with their work doesn’t have to be perfect. It is preferred they start their report on day one of their research and include anything that can help judges follow along with their project. For example, if their project includes a survey, include a sample of the survey in the project report.

Photos of items and elements students could not bring into the fair are important to include in the project report. For example, photos of time-lapse of progression, like plants wilting during an experiment that went on for several weeks.

SASEF judges are very supportive and are there to assist students with their research ideas. The judges want to hear the story of why the student is interested in the research project they chose. SASEF judges love to see passion!

Examples of questions that may be asked include:

  • “Tell me about your project.”
  • “Now you’ve done this, what would you do differently next time?”
  • “How would you expand on this project?”
  • “How did you like the project?”
  • “How did you come up with this project?”

To learn more about judges, or if you would like to volunteer to be a judge, visit our Judges page here.

Student dress should be neat and clean, but there is no “right” outfit. We ask that students come ready to present and put their best foot forward, but that does not mean you must wear a suit or dress. You can wear nice jeans and a nice top.

While students wait to be judged, they will be provided a chair to sit in. It is important for students to stand once judges approach for an interview.

Remember, nothing dresses a student up more than a smile! If a student is enthusiastic about their project, then it doesn’t matter what they have on.

The top two Senior Division winners and their teachers will qualify to attend the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) which is traditionally held in mid-May. The SASEF winners and their teachers will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the international competition to compete among the top STEM students around the world.

Visit the SASEF Awards page here to learn about all awards given at the fair.

Visit this page here to learn more about the awards given at the Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Visit our sponsorship page here for more information on sponsors, the benefits of being a sponsor, and who to contact.

Learn more about the importance of and what is included in a Research Plan.