Official BASEF 2009 Rules and Guidelines

Last revision: February, 2009
Last review: February, 2009

  1. Recent Changes to Rules and Procedures
  2. Eligibility, Entries and Ethics
  3. Project Dimensions
  4. General Safety
  5. Fire Safety
  6. Chemical Safety
  7. Electrical Safety
  8. Structural & Mechanical Safety
  9. X-Ray or Radiation-producing Equipment
  10. Firearms, Explosives and Hazardous Materials
  11. Microorganism Safety & Biohazards
  12. Recombinant DNA and Biotechnological Safety
  13. Regulations for Animal Experimentation in Science Fairs
  14. Guidelines for Research Involving Human Subjects
  15. Scientific-Review Forms
  16. Display of Previous Awards

Recent Changes to Rules and Procedures

YSF has updated their policy on animals: Policy 4.1.2 - Use of Animals in Research. The sections affected are those that deal with vertebrates and cephalopods, and cultural issues (sections 8 and 9). See the section on Scientific-Review Forms for links.

Eligibility, Entries and Ethics

Eligibility:The Bay Area Science & Engineering Fair (BASEF) is open to all students in grades seven to 12 under the age of twenty one who attend any public, separate, or private school, or who are home-schooled, in the City of Hamilton, the Region of Halton, Brant County, Haldimand County or Norfolk County.

School Fairs: If your school conducts a school science fair, you may only advance to BASEF through your school's fair. If your school does not conduct a science fair, you may enter into BASEF directly; your school official must still approve your participation.

Number of Entries: All registrations from any source are subject to the maximum number of entries per school. Each school is allowed to register twelve (12) projects per Level:
- Elementary Schools K- 8: 12 projects per Level 7-8
- Secondary Schools 9-12: 12 projects per Level 9-10 and 11-12
- Independent Schools K-12: 12 projects per Level 7-8 and 9-10 and 11-12

Please be aware that you may only exhibit the project you registered, using the same project title: no substitutions of projects or students will be permitted.
Total registrations are also limited by the fair's host site capacity. In case of over registration, acceptance will be based on earliest On-line Registration date and time. A student may not exhibit more than one project each year.

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 CWSF or the IISEF.

Required SRC Forms:
Grade 7 & 8 Students are eligible for the CWSF and must complete any additional required YSF Forms.
High School students are eligible for both the CWSF and the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (IISEF), and must comply with both sets of Rules. To meet both CWSF and IISEF requirements, high school students are asked to complete any additional required IISEF forms instead of the YSF forms.
See the Forms Required webpage, and the relevant Rules sections for more details.

Team Projects: Group projects may consist of a maximum of two students. For group entries from two grades, the age division of the most senior student is used.

Team membership cannot be changed during a given research year including converting to or from an individual project, but may be altered in subsequent years.

The final work should reflect the coordinated efforts of all team members and will be evaluated using the same rules and judging criteria as individual projects.

Each team must ensure one online registration form is completed for their project (not one per student). The team must also ensure that all required SRC forms are completed for their project. In addition, each team member must ensure they EACH provide a completed, signed BASEF consent form. Each high school team member must also provide a completed, signed form 1B (ISEF Approval Form).

Continuation or Duplicate Projects: An exhibitor may not present a project identical to a previous year's project at BASEF. An improved project may be entered again into competition, however only research completed since the last BASEF fair may be displayed. Any continuing research must document substantial expansion of investigation and students will be judged on the current year's work only. If you are entering a project which is a continuation of previous year?s work, you must complete a Continuation Projects Form, and submit it with your project registration.

Permissions: All consent forms must be signed by a parent / guardian and a teacher or principal. Some Scientific Review forms require additional signatures.

Team Canada - YSF Competition: High school students who enter BASEF are automatically considered to be eligible for IISEF; however, in a given year, students may enter only one competition to attend IISEF. Please note the the precise definition of "entering the Team Canada - YSF competition":

  • If you submit an application to Team Canada - YSF, satisfy all eligibility requirements (which includes final submission of the project for competition in March), you will not be eligible for consideration for an IISEF trip award through BASEF competition. You will, however, be eligible for other awards at BASEF, including CWSF trip awards.
  • If you submit an entry application for Team Canada - YSF Competition in December, but do not proceed to make the final submission in March, you are deemed not to have entered the Team Canada - YSF Competition and will be considered for the IISEF trips awarded by BASEF.

Project Dimensions

All exhibits, including all accessories, must be confined to a table or floor space not to exceed 0.76 metres, front to back; 1.2 metres side to side; and 2.74 metres maximum height from the floor. All measurements will be made from the outermost points, including framework and appendages, and will be checked by the safety and ethics committee. Exhibits exceeding these dimensions must be modified or will not be accepted. Fair supplied tables will not exceed 91 cm in height.

General Safety

Safety of the public is a prime consideration. Suitable precautions must be taken to prevent the possibility of personal injury, property damage, and the legal action that could result from a lack of concern for safety.

  • All sharp edges or corners on prisms, mirrors, enclosures, and glass and metal plates must be removed or otherwise protected. The length of hoses or extension cords is to be kept to a minimum and out of the way to eliminate tripping hazards. Use tape for securing.
  • Aisles and exits must not be obstructed.
  • Moving exhibits (e.g., radio-controlled vehicles, robots) should be restricted to the regulation display space. The committee will endeavour to provide an area to safely demonstrate to judges, projects that require more space than the regulated exhibit display space. Powered aircraft may not be activated.
  • Exhibits must be sturdy and self-supporting; adjacent walls may not be used for support. Moving parts must be firmly attached and approved for safety.
  • Glue all paper flat to the backboard, or tape all edges. Do not hang overlapping sheets on the backboard; put them in a binder.
  • It is strongly suggested that you limit or avoid the use or ingestion of any peanut related food, due to the fact that, many people are allergic to that. If for any reason your project involves this materials, for display, we suggest that peanuts are sealed ie. original peanut bag with no leaks or sealed in an acrylic cube. To someone with a peanut allergy touching a peanut can give very extreme health results.
  • We have been notified by the College that electrical power in the gym we are using is very limited. Therefore we may be asking students to not use display lighting on their projects, to ensure equipment needed for project demonstrations isn't affected by tripped circuit breakers. We will assess this in detail at project setup, and let you know.
  • One electrical outlet supplying AC110 volt 60 cycle will be supplied if requested. Each 15A circuit will be shared by several projects. Exhibitors should bring their own good quality (CSA approved) 3 prong extension cord, since outlets may not be adjacent to each project's display space. No gas or water outlets will be available. No cable or telephone circuits will be available. Switches and cords must be the approved variety. Cell or battery-fed circuits should be safe in design and operation.
  • Water will be available near the exhibit hall. Bring your own pail to carry it if needed. Your display must be confirmed as safe by the safety committee both before and after including the water. You must also demonstrate arrangements for removing and disposing of the water safely and without spillage.
  • We strongly recommend that you use unbreakable, sealed containers for any materials we allow you to display at your project.
  • The exhibitor must supply all equipment except display tables.
  • The exhibit must comply with all safety, animal care and ethical regulations as outlined below, and in the Safety and Regulation Checklist.

Fire Safety

The organizing committee will work with the Safety Officer of the host site to meet all requirements for safety and security, and to communicate those requirements as necessary to participants during the science fair. The organizing committee will establish an exhibit hall layout that satisfies the host site's requirements for fire safety and emergency evacuation purposes.

Certain restrictions have been defined for the construction of displays to reduce the possibility of accidental fire during the fair, and in the event of fire, to allow for safe evacuation of the building.

The committee will be responsible for ensuring that fire extinguishers of proper size and rating are available in the exhibition area.

The committee will establish a fire evacuation plan, and an exhibit hall layout that minimizes long rows in order to reduce flame spread.

All apparatus used to generate heat (hot plates, heat lamps, torches, candles, etc.), if displayed, must be rendered non-operable.

Packing material must not be stored in the exhibit hall.

Chemical Safety

No containers of toxic or flammable chemicals are allowed.

Dangerous chemicals are not allowed - this includes prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication, kitchen and laundry supplies, tobacco products and by-products. Substitutes for toxic and corrosive chemicals must be used. Common salt, for example, can be used to simulate chemicals such as ammonium nitrate. Water may be used instead of alcohol, ether, and other highly flammable liquids. Molasses can be used to represent petroleum products. When chemicals are simulated, they should be labelled with the names of the substance they represent preceded by the word "simulated" No project will be penalized because the key (but potentially dangerous) components were not on display.

If you are in doubt about any material, then use a substitute in your project display.

Electrical Safety

  • As low a voltage as possible must be used.
  • At the end of the day or the viewing period, all electrical exhibits must be disconnected, and power bars switched off. Power bars must have a switch for this purpose.
  • Only CSA-approved extension cords in good repair shall be used.
  • Where practical and necessary, it is recommended that pilot lights be used to indicate that the voltage is on.
  • Cord-connected electrical appliances shall have a 3-wire conductor with ground or be CSA-approved.
  • An insulating grommet is required at the point where the service enters any enclosure.
  • Electrical devices must be protectively enclosed as far as it is practical.
  • Any enclosure must be non-combustible. All non-current carrying metal parts must be grounded.
  • All lighting used for decoration or illumination must be CSA approved. Lamp wattage must not exceed ratings. Lighting must not pose risk of injury if touched.
  • No exposed live parts over 36 volts are allowed. Current (amperage) must be low so as not to cause any discomfort or danger if touched.
  • Wet cells shall not be used because of the hazardous chemicals involved.

Structural & Mechanical Safety

Exhibits must be of a safe design with adequate stability to keep from tipping.

Dangerous moving parts such as belts, gears, pulleys and propeller blades must be suitably guarded.

Pressurized vessels should have a safety valve.

Compressed gas cylinders are not allowed to be displayed. Small (table top) air or other fluid compressors may be displayed, but must be rendered inoperable for the duration of the fair. Associated pressure systems must be purged of any contents other than ordinary air, and must be open to the atmosphere, to ensure they are at room pressure. Pressure systems of any type are considered hazardous equipment. You must complete a Designated Supervisor form and it must be submitted with the project registration.

X-Ray or Radiation-producing Equipment

If an exhibit uses x-ray equipment or any other equipment capable of emitting high energy radiation, registration of ownership with the Ontario government is required.

Plans for structural protection must be submitted to the provincial government and approval requested.

A formally trained and qualified individual must be identified to exercise supervision of the operation and to take responsibility for safe performance. It will be an obligation of this individual to satisfy the Chief Inspector by exposure rate measurements or other suitable documentation that the operation is safe.

Projects involving voltages above 10 kV should be considered to pose a potential x-ray hazard.

Lasers and x-ray or radiation-producing equipment may not be operated during public viewing periods.

You must complete a Designated Supervisor form and it must be submitted with the project registration.

Firearms, Explosives and Hazardous Materials

YSF Canada and Regional Science Fairs allow students to conduct research involving hazardous equipment and firearms as long as students adhere to federal and provincial regulations and guidelines that are designed to protect the safety of the researchers.

Use of hazardous equipment, dangerous goods, explosives and firearms requires proper supervision by a Designated Supervisor. This Supervisor must be directly responsible for overseeing student experimentation. In some cases, the Designated Supervisor must possess a Firearms Possessions Certificate / Hunter Safety Certificate and/or a Canadian Firearms Safety Course equivalent, and be knowledgeable in the use of the firearms or devices that will be used in the experimentation. In all cases, the Designated Supervisor must be at least 18 years old. The Supervisor must provide proof at time of project Registration of his/her licensing and expertise in the use of a firearm, volatile substance or device, and/or explosives, or the project will not be accepted.

You must complete a Designated Supervisor Form, and it must be submitted with the project Registration. You must also be familiar with, and in compliance with, the YSF Policy #4.2.1 "Use of Firearms, Hazardous Materials and Equipment". For the full text of the current release of this Policy, please see

The Regulations and restrictions relating to Firearms, Explosives and Hazardous Materials are extensive and complex. If you are considering this type of project, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We will provide further details, and help put you in touch with appropriate authorities familiar with current regulations and relevant aspects regarding scientific merit, and for guidance and suggestions in performing the work.

Microorganism Safety & Biohazards

The following hazardous biological materials may not be displayed:

    1. Radioisotopes or compounds containing radioisotopes at activities above normal background
    2. Biological toxins
    3. Microorganisms (the use of mixed cultures obtained from the environment - e.g. soils, mouth swabs - is acceptable for experimentation, but not for display)
    4. Cells or tissues infected with animal or plant viruses
    5. No cultures are allowed for exhibition (photographs or simulated cultures may be used)
    6. No plants, plant tissue, soil or material shall be exhibited at the BASEF fair, although such materials may be used in experiments. The use of photos is encouraged for display purposes. (Revised Feb/2008)

Experimentation involving biohazards must be carried out under controlled laboratory conditions and supervision. Evidence of this supervision, including the supervisor?s name, institution, and qualifications must be included in the Contribution From a Recognized Institution form, and must be submitted with the project Registration.

Recombinant DNA and Biotechnological Safety

Projects involving the manipulation of recombinant DNA molecules or animal viruses are allowed if conducted under qualified supervision. Evidence of this supervision, including the supervisor?s name, institution, and qualifications must be included in the Contribution From a Recognized Institution form, and must be submitted with the project Registration.

Biotechnological investigations involving enzymes pose risks of allergic reactions. Work involving DNA technology can be accomplished safely if simple precautions are taken. The use of DNA is, in itself, usually safe, but hazards arise from chemicals and electrical equipment employed in the manipulation of DNA. Extremely hazardous chemicals, such as ethidium bromide, used to stain DNA, should be avoided. Electrophoresis of DNA fragments should use low voltages or equipment that prevents access to connections at high voltages.

Live tissue samples used in such investigations must be taken either from a continuously maintained tissue culture line already available to institutional researchers, or from animals already being used in an on-going institutional research program. Proof of where such material has been acquired (invoice or letter from supplier) must be available at all times during the fair, and submitted with the project Registration. These animal tissues may only be displayed at the fair if they are prepared and sealed (lamella, plastination).

Regulations for Animal Experimentation in Science Fairs

Biological experimentation is essential for an understanding of living processes. Such studies should lead to a respect for all living things. Capable students, anxious to pursue a career in biological sciences, must receive the necessary encouragement and direction. All aspects of the project must be within the comprehension and capabilities of the student undertaking the study.

I. Regulations:

BASEF requires all projects that involve animal experimentation, both vertebrate and invertebrate, to comply with the current version of YSF Policy #4.1C: "Use of Animals (Vertebrate and Invertebrate) in Research". The latest version of this Policy can be found here.

Please ensure that your project complies with this policy. Document your compliance by providing a copy of the YSF Form "Science Project Human/Animal Research Approval Form", signed by the student(s) AND their Adult Supervisor, at time of BASEF Project Registration. If your project is likely to be classed as complex under the policy, also ensure the form is signed by an appropriately qualified Scientific Supervisor. Include a copy of this form in your project notebook, onsite at the BASEF fair.

II. Display of Animals and Animal Parts:

Students working on biological projects may involve animals as outlined above. The display of the project is to be a report of completed work, and thus further restrictions are imposed. Also, science fair organizers should try to reduce the potential for adverse reaction from visitors and other exhibitors.

Live microorganisms and vertebrate or non-vertebrate animals shall not be included in the display, although appropriate photographs may be available in the report.

The only parts of vertebrate animals that may be displayed are those that are either naturally shed by an animal or parts properly prepared and preserved. Soft tissue specimens are not acceptable if they are preserved in formaldehyde, a dangerous chemical excluded under the chemical safety sections of these guidelines. Sealed tissue samples on microscope slides are permissible. Thus, porcupine quills (safely contained), shed snake skin, feathers, tanned pelts and hides, antlers, hair samples, skeletons and skeletal parts are permissible, while organ and tissue samples are not. However, photos, videos or slides of organ and tissue samples may be made available for viewing upon request but are not permitted to be placed on display.

Guidelines for Research Involving Human Subjects

BASEF requires all projects that involve human participants to comply with the current version of YSF Policy #4.1.1: "Use of Human Participants in Research". The latest version of this Policy can be found here. Please ensure that your project complies with this policy. Document your compliance by providing a copy of the appropriate YSF Form described in the policy, depending upon the Risk Level of your project, at time of BASEF Project Registration. Ensure all required signatures are on the form. Proper Risk Assessment is very important; if you need help, please contact BASEF, and we will advise you. Include a copy of this form in your project notebook, onsite at the BASEF fair. Please do not send BASEF copies of actual signed Written Informed consent forms. Please do send us a sample, unsigned version of the Informed Consent form you have used." If you are a High School student, remember to follow both YSF and ISEF Rules, and use ISEF Forms. use ISEF Forms.

Scientific Review Forms

The YSF and IISEF forms are available on the Forms Required page.

Display of Previous Awards

Awards, certificates, prizes etc. won by you or your project at previous science fairs or competitions are not to be displayed or discussed at the BASEF on Judging day. We are pleased that you have done well, but do not want to bias our judging process.

You may display previous awards only at the Public Viewing on Saturday.