These are the tough rules that can disqualify your student from competition at SARSEF or cause serious modifications to the project board. The official committees are sanctioned by Science Service and include the Scientific Review Committee & Institutional Review Board. Our continued affiliation requires that we enforce these rules.
The SRC/IRB monitors and maintains the safety of our students and those around them during their projects. SARSEF provides a joint SRC/IRB for all competitors in the Southern Arizona Region. Schools must not form their own SRC or IRB in the SARSEF region.
Scientific Review Committee (SRC) As defined by Science Service, Inc.:
“A Scientific Review Committee (SRC) is a group of adults knowledgeable about regulations concerning experimentation especially in the following areas: vertebrate animals, pathogenic agents, controlled substances and recombinant DNA. The SRC must evaluate all projects in these areas before experimentation may begin. The Fair SRC will also review the documentation for ALL projects shortly before competition to ensure that students have followed all applicable rules and that the project is eligible to compete.”
An SRC consists of a minimum of three members. It must include at least: a biomedical scientist (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., D.O.), a science teacher and one other member. At least one member must be familiar with proper animal care procedures when reviewing projects using vertebrate animals. In order to eliminate conflict of interest, the Adult Sponsor, parents, the Qualified Scientist, and the Designated Supervisor who oversee a specific project must not serve on the SRC reviewing that project.
For K-8 SRC Form Click Here.
For an excellent review of the use of microbes, click here
The SRC is mandated by our affiliation with the ISEF. Although individual schools may setup their own SRC, it should be used primarily as a screening committee to evaluate projects that the school SRC does not want the student to pursue. Even those projects approved by the school SRC must be submitted to the SARSEF SRC prior to project initiation if the above conditions apply. The local school SRC may approve K-5 Human Subjects research that involves only the immediate family or consenting classmates. To repeat, below the 6th grade, Human Subject Projects may be approved by the local school SRC providing that only classmates or immediate family are involved. However, all projects at any grade level that involves Human Subjects beyond the immediate family or classmates must be approved, in advance, by the SARSEF SRC.
The SARSEF SRC includes two University of Arizona research Veterinarians and a research Ph.D. level Molecular Biologist. The committee has access to University of Arizona faculty who can advise regarding Human Subjects (Human subject research requires the approval of the Institutional Board which falls within the purview of the SARSEF SRC). They also have access to other specialty faculty if there are questions of safety beyond the committee's expertise. There can be no exceptions to compliance with SRC prior review and approval regardless of grade level. Many questions can be answered by a phone call to Dr. Paula Johnson (D.V.M.) at 621-3483. She can advise methods that will lead to approval or turn the student in a different direction that will not run the risk of rejection by the SRC. Even after the phone call, if the project involves any of the SRC categories, approval must be obtained in writing, on the SRC form, before research is initiated. This applies to Kindergarten through High School. This simple step can save everyone from potential conflict and embarrassment, and worse, failure to be allowed to exhibit at SARSEF. When in doubt, call, e-mail, or mail the SRC form to Dr. Johnson (phone 621-3483) (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) (mail to SARSEF Director,
3247 N. Christmas Ave.,
Tucson, AZ 85716) with any questions. Do NOT send by Certified Mail.How You Get SRC & IRB Approval
Dr. Johnson (phone 621-3483) (e-mail email@example.com) (mail to SARSEF Director,
3247 N. Christmas Ave.,
Tucson, AZ 85716) with any questions. Do NOT send by Certified Mail.
Institutional Review Board (IRB) Rules
As defined by Science Service, Inc.: “An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee that, according to federal regulations (45-CFR-46), must evaluate the potential physical and/or psychological risk of research involving human subjects. All proposed human research must be reviewed and approved by an IRB before experimentation begins. This includes review of any surveys or questionnaires to be used in a project.”
SARSEF has a combined SRC/IRB committee. By definition, “this committee must include at least: a biomedical scientist (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., D.O.), a science teacher, a school administrator (preferably, a principal or vice-principal), and one of the following who is knowledgeable and capable of evaluating the physical and/or psychological risk involved in a given study: a medical doctor, physician’s assistant, registered nurse, a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, or licensed social worker. At least one member of the committee must be familiar with proper animal care procedures when reviewing projects using vertebrate animals.”
For SARSEF, the SRC also serves as the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and reviews projects involving human subjects. To serve as an IRB, an SRC must also include the members required in a properly constituted IRB. The SRC/IRB review process is “intended to ensure the safety of students, to protect the subjects and environments studied, and to limit the liability of the adults who assist with the projects.” All SRC/IRB members are familiar with the International Rules and the Operational Guidelines for SRCs/IRBs, as well as any pertinent federal regulations.
When reviewing research plans, SRC/IRB members ‘use their best professional judgment coupled with good common sense. They counsel and instruct students and help them correct violations whenever possible.’
ISEF Form 4
Click Here for an IRB Suggested Format