Approval Before Experimentation
It is absolutely imperative that all projects involving Human Subjects, Vertebrate Animals, Animal Tissues MUST obtain project approval by the SRC prior to starting the project. Failure to obtain prior approval may result in being unable to compete at SARSEF, DCYSC, or ISEF competition. Potentially Pathogenic, or Hazardous Substances, Devices or Activities must be reviewed by the school and for High School students, these projects MUST be reviewed by the SRC prior to starting the project.
In the lower grades, where the projects are less complicated, teachers, parents, family friends will often say that it is “OK for a project to proceed”, especially if the target is a family pet or if the human subjects happen to be family or friends. This is wrong and usually results in inability to compete at any level of competition: local, regional or beyond.
All such projects, no matter how innocent they may appear, must be reviewed by an SRC/IRB committee, prior to starting the project. For the K-8 grades we have created a special SRC form that is easy to complete and will be quickly reviewed. For those who are unsure if they need project approval by the SRC or IRB, contact SARSEF. A school SRC/IRB may be formed at the K-8th grades - it is important that these SRC's review the rules and consider the safety of the student and subjects invovled.
Re: Mold & Bacteria projects:
Mold - bread mold projects (K-8) may be allowed at home ONLY if the study is stopped as soon as the mold is seen. I.e., as soon as mold starts to grow, the bread is thrown away.
Bacteria - at NO time is bacteria culturing allowed at home. Samples may be collected at home or in the environment, but they must then be taken to a laboratory (School or lab) to be grown. Please review ISEF rules for specifics regarding the type of bacteria that can be grown in a BSL 1 lab, etc.
Specific items SRC members consider in reviewing a project include:
- evidence of library/literary search (Internet, Journals, Books, etc)
- evidence of proper supervision
- use of accepted research techniques
- completed forms, signatures and dates
- evidence of search for alternatives to animal use
- humane treatment of animals
- compliance with rules and laws governing proper care and housing of animals
- appropriate/safe handling and use of recombinant DNA, potentially pathogenic organisms, tissues and hazardous substances, devices and activities
- adequate documentation of the substantial expansion of continuing projects.
Upon reviewing a project, the SRC arrives at one of three decisions:
1- Approval: If a project is approved, the SRC chairperson signs the appropriate forms and returns papework to students as soon as possible, so that they can begin experimentation.
2- Disapproval: The SRC Chairperson will provide the student and sponsor with a list of reasons for disapproval and suggestions for changes needed for approval. If suitable corrections are made, the revised project forms should be re-submitted for reviewed. If the project is approved, the student and sponsor will be notified immediately so that the student can begin experimentation.
3- Projects that are NOT allowed: Some projects are unethical or should not be done by pre-college students. Examples would be projects designed to kill vertebrate animals, toxicity studies using vertebrate animals, improper treatment of animals, proposed use of potential pathogens at home, and lack of appropriate supervision. The SRC will notify the student and sponsor promptly and provide them with a complete list of reasons the project may not be done.
(Based upon Science Service, Inc. website: www.sciserv.org/isef)