Code of Ethics

In all steps of a scientific research, the researcher must maintain integrity. Researchers will avoid any scientific misconduct or fraud, such as falsifying data or records, piracy or plagiarism, using the works of other researchers. Such projects will fail to compete in the firSTep.


Eligibility / Limitations

1. firSTep is open to all students attending classes in grades 3 through 12. (at ISB Y4 through Y13 )

2. All applications are subject to pre-elimination process.

3. The student should be under twenty-one years of age as of April 1 in the year of participation.

4. A student, or group of students, may not exhibit more than one project each year.

5. The project should be done in last 12 months before entrance in the firSTep.

6. An exhibit cannot be entered in the fair for more than one year without significant changes.

7. Maximum of TWO members can present a team exhibit at firSTep fair. Other member(s) can join the program as an observer student. Team members cannot be changed in current year of work but can be altered in the subsequent years. If one of the team members cannot participate in the fair, the project can be presented by the other team member if possible.


General Requirements

1. All students competing in the firSTep Fair must adhere to the rules set by the firSTep.
2. All projects must adhere to Code of Ethics Code above.
3. All participants should choose an experimental or investigative project in related areas defined in the firSTep Student Handbook. Scientific methods should be followed in the research based project.
4. A research project might be a part of a bigger study conducted by professional scientists but the participant can only present the portion of the study that he/she involved actively.
5. All students MUST register their projects online thorough the firSTep website and submit the required paperwork.
6. Also, the required paper work should be completed by project supervisors, parents, and adult supervisors to grant the student’s presence in the firSTep fair.
7. All students must attend the firSTep with an adult supervisor. Adult supervisor might be a parent, a teacher, or a project supervisor.
8. The project supervisor should follow the safety rules for projects involving vertebrate animals, biological agents, human subjects, hazardous chemicals, activities, and devices.
9. There will be one responsible staff in every school for registration who will collect all the required information about projects in their schools, coordinating with supervisor teachers and school administration.Students should apply to any of their teachers at school who would be their supervisor.

10. The copies of project abstracts will be distributed to firSTep judges before the judging time. Students should make their own copies of research paper, project journal, and other items to display at their booth .Displaying such items is not mandatory but is highly recommended.

11. Any continuing projects can participate in thefirSTep. The projects will be judged only on their most current research. The display should reflect most recent research and its comparison to previous data. Students must complete Project Continuation Form for multi-year studies.
12. All team members should be fully involved with the project, know all aspects of the project. Judging criteria for team projects evaluates the coordinated efforts of all members.
13. All firSTep exhibits must adhere to firSTep safety and display requirements.


Safety Guidelines & Information

firSTep adheres to all regulations and standards to ensure the safety and welfare of both the researcher and the subjects (humans, animals) involved in the project.
A project supervisor must follow the general safety regulations for projects involving vertebrate animals, biological agents, human subjects, pathogens, animal tissues, hazardous chemicals, activities, and devices. The researcher and project supervisor should be familiar with these regulations before the experimentation or the research. The following links should be consulted for students with projects involving these subjects or materials. The rules and procedures listed are the same as those practicing scientists must follow, thus we encourage project supervisors to also use these links to ensure the lab safety and welfare. Failure to follow these rules could result in disqualification of student projects.
Students should be aware to maintain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS ’s) on all chemicals used or
stored at the facility. In addition, the rules for handling, storage and disposal of these chemicals that can be found in the MSDS’s must be followed. Free access to MSDS’s can be found at
The following guides and links are good resources to learn the regulations regarding the use of hazardous devices and radiation.
1. Radiation Manual from the Center of Disease Control
2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Documents available from:
OSHA Publications PUB 8-1.7 - Guidelines for Laser Safety and Hazard Assessment
STD 1-4.1 - OSHA Coverage of Ionizing Radiation Sources
Not Covered by Atomic Energy Act of
3. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Material Safety and Inspection Branch



Every student is supposed to prepare and bring with him/her a video of between 2 - 4 min of his/her project with the following conditions:

  1. In the first 10 seconds of the movie, the student's school name and its photo must appear.
  2. Then the running project must be shown in about 20 seconds. For social science projects, this is not the case.
  3. Then student must introduce himself.
  4. Start explaining the project in a time interval of minimum 2 min. and maximum 4 min.
  5. The student must wear school uniform.
  6. The video must be uploaded on YouTube which should be listed only (not publicly available).
  7. If possible, the student can make his/her presentation in front of a banner or roll-up of his school.

Firstep 2020