Important Dates & Times

Tuesday December 01, 2020 at 12:00 AM
Friday March 12, 2021 at 11:59 PM
Wednesday March 17, 2021 at 11:59 PM
Saturday March 20, 2021 at 12:00 AM
Tuesday March 23, 2021 at 12:00 PM
Saturday March 20, 2021 at 8:00 AM


Whom do the fairs serve: 

Terra Rochester Finger Lakes Science and Engineering Fair (TRFSEF) serves nine U.S. counties: (NY) Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Yates, Steuben, Livingston, Schuyler, and Chemung.

Because we will host a "virtual 2021 fair" to protect students and judges, both fairs will compete in cooperation with the Terra Northeast Regional Science and Engineering Fair to access more judges and enjoy more students in special online events. In March, you will present live to judges as well as submitting documents and videos for judges and fellow students and families to enjoy! Each fair is allocated its own separate awards package, so a bigger party just means more fun.

Who competes in what?
TRFSEF accepts students in grades 5-12 who attend public, private, charter, parochial or home schools. All students compete in either the Junior Division (grades 5-8) or Senior Division (grades 9-12).

Topic Presentation (TOPIC) students in any grade prepare models or informative reports; they collect no data or make no improvements to their models.
     * All TOPIC students complete the Terra Safety and Permission Form.

Research and Engineering Design (RED) students in any grade collect data using the scientific method (Research) or develop a technique, tool or machine with documented repeated tests and improvements (Engineering Design).
     * Junior RED students completed the Terra Safety and Permission Form.
     * Senior RED students complete the ISEF SRC Forms and Terra Media Release.

Many families have created multi-family "pods" for their children's education and play; homeschoolers often conduct projects that include all of their children. Therefore, this year TRFSEF will accept teams of up to three students who are from different grades.
TOPIC: No differentiation is made for grade, so no accomodation is needed.
   * If all the students are in middle school, the team will decide in which Junior Level grade they should be judged.
   * If all the students are in high school, there is no change needed; Senior Level RED is judged by category.
   * If the team includes both middle and high school RED students, you may choose Junior or Senior Level.
   * Mixed level RED teams ARE NOT eligible for international advancement to ISEF or GENIUS Olympiad.
   * Students in 6th-8th grade in mixed level RED teams ARE eligible for advancement to the Broadcom Masters.

IMPORTANT RULES: Who does the work?

  1. Students are encouraged to seek help and guidance from adults and from resources such as Science Buddies. However, ALL WORK MUST BE DONE BY THE STUDENT. In those cases in which safety issues preclude a student's using a process or piece of equipment, the adult who completes that portion of the work will be cited, and the BALANCE of the work will be completed by the student.
  2. If there is any evidence of plagiarism, the student(s) will be immediately removed from the competition. The Director's decision is final.

Early Entry Option:
Students may request early admission to both the TRFSEF based upon math achievement, not date of birth. How? They will show that their MATH level qualifies them for either 5th or 9th grade, using our Math Placement Tool to document their math achievement level. The sponsoring adult will certify a student's achievement level by emailing the Fair Coordinator.

  • Students not yet in 5th grade must correctly answer at least 16 of Questions 1-20 in the Math Placement tool to compete in the Junior Division TOPIC or Junior Division RED.
  • Students not yet in 9th grade must correctly answer at least 16 of Questions 81-100 in the Math Placement tool to compete in the Senior Division RED. 
  • As TOPIC Presentations are judged as one unit, grade is irrelevant. Only Topic Presenters not yet in 5th grade need submit Math Placement results.

About Us

The Terra Rochester Finger Lakes Science and Engineering Fair is managed by Terra Science and Education.

Through its network of five New York and Pennsylvania regional science and engineering fairs, Terra Science and Education provides middle and high school students the opportunity to engage in authentic scientific research or engineering practice and to share their experiences and findings with others in an ISEF-affiliated science and engineering fair.

Through our support of educators, families and students with a focus on STEM, Terra works tirelessly to meet the educational needs of the underserved and under-represented, including women in STEM. While we concentrate on our 25 science fair counties, many of our resources are available to the general public regardless of geography.

Terra Fairs are affiliated with the internationally-known STEM fairs ISEF and GENIUS Olympiad. Terra fully funds selected finalist projects and students from its affiliated and partner fairs to attend ISEF or GENIUS Olympiad for exceptional international and scientific experiences.

You can find out more about Terra Science and Education here.


What to Expect During the Fair

For 2021, the TRFSEF will be conducted in March as a Virtual Fair alongside TTRSF and TASASEF with real-time judging interviews * as well as the opportunity to submit documents and videos about your topic presentations or Research / Engineering Design projects!

You can expect the fairs to include:

  1. interviews** with judges who want to know about the work you have done;
  2. opportunities to meet and talk virtually with your students from all three fairs;
  3. a virtual Exhibit Hall in which students, teachers and other interested people can view your work;
  4. a fascinating presentation in honor of the students in the Fair;
  5. an Awards Ceremony celebrating your achievements.

In order to allow plenty of time for judge interviews and processing of results, we have set aside a full two weeks in March. Your specific judging schedule will be provided in early March. The date and time of the Awards Ceremony will also be announced at that time.

Scores from the judges will determine the awards, from being advanced to the Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) or GENIUS Olympiad, to Special Awards (some with cash prizes). Because judging may take place over the course of a few days, you will not know the results of the fair until the Awards Ceremony.

And for those of you who are saying, "What? Virtual?" - in 2020 the Rochester fair did run virtually and both students and judges declared it a great success!

* TASASEF students, your judging assignment will be coordinated with your time zone.

** Child safety is a top priority. Students will not be able to enter their virtual Judging Room until two adults are present.

Behavioral and Social Sciences
The science or study of the thought processes and behavior of humans and other animals in their interactions with the environment studied through observational and experimental methods.
Biomedical and Health Sciences
This category focuses on studies specifically designed to address issues of human health and disease. It includes studies on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention or epidemiology of disease and other damage to the human body or mental systems. Includes studies of normal functioning and may investigate internal as well as external factors such as feedback mechanisms, stress or environmental impact on human health and disease.
Biomedical Engineering
Projects that involve the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes including diagnosis, monitoring and therapy. Prominent biomedical engineering applications include the development of biocompatible prostheses, various diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices ranging from clinical equipment to micro-implants, common imaging equipment such as MRIs and EEGs, regenerative tissue growth, pharmaceutical drugs and therapeutic biologicals.
Cellular and Molecular Biology
This is an interdisciplinary field that studies the structure, function, intracellular pathways, and formation of cells. Studies involve understanding life and cellular processes specifically at the molecular level.
Studies exploring the science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter not involving biochemical systems.
Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Studies that primarily focus on the discipline and techniques of computer science and mathematics as they relate to biological systems. This includes the development and application of data-analytical and theoretical methods, mathematical modeling and computational simulation techniques to the study of biological, behavior, and social systems.
Earth and Environmental Science
Studies of the environment and its effect on organisms/systems, including investigations of biological processes such as growth and life span, as well as studies of Earth systems and their evolution.
Embedded Systems
Studies involving electrical systems in which information is conveyed via signals and waveforms for purposes of enhancing communications, control and/or sensing.
Energy: Sustainable Materials and Design
Studies/processes involving the production and/or storage of energy.
Engineering Mechanics
Studies that focus on the science and engineering that involve movement or structure. The movement can be by the apparatus or the movement can affect the apparatus.
Environmental Engineering
Studies that engineer or develop processes and infrastructure to solve environmental problems in the supply of water, the disposal of waste, or the control of pollution.
Junior Division
This Category is for Junior Division Judges to conference
Materials Science
The study of the integration of various materials forms in systems, devices, and components that rely on their unique and specific properties. It involves their synthesis and processing in the form of nanoparticles, nanofibers, and nanolayered structures, to coatings and laminates, to bulk monolithic, single-/poly-crystalline, glassy, soft/hard solid, composite, and cellular structures. It also involves measurements of various properties and characterization of the structure across length scales, in addition to multi-scale modeling and computations for process-structure and structure-property correlations.
The study of micro-organisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, prokaryotes, and simple eukaryotes as well as antimicrobial and antibiotic substances.
Robotics and Intelligent Machines
Studies in which the use of machine intelligence is paramount to reducing the reliance on human intervention.
Systems Software
The study or development of software, information processes or methodologies to demonstrate, analyze, or control a process/solution.
TOPIC Presentations allow students to present: (1) what they have learned about a particular subject, machine or technique; (2) the literature review or laboratory training they have completed in preparation for future Research or Engineering Design projects.

Judge Criteria

If you are curious about the Rubrics that our fair judges will use on fair day, please see the Judging Rubrics document below.




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