Safety of Science Fair Projects

  1. Youth Science Canada promotes the concept that safety is a component of every science fair project. It is the responsibility of the student and their adult supervisor, to consider all safety aspects of the project, and to ensure that best practises are followed. Hammers, screwdrivers, table saws and some lasers are examples of useful tools that can cause injury if used improperly.
  2. Here are some questions to ask yourself before starting your science fair project.
    1. What parts of my project have the potential to cause harm?
    2. Do I have the necessary training to ensure the safety of myself or others involved with the project? If not, where will I get the training required?
    3. What safety equipment will I need? Where will I get it?
    4. Do I have appropriate adult supervisors? If I don’t, where can I find them?
    5. Where is an appropriate location for working on this project? If the project is done at home, then the student must take care to work within his or her limits of expertise. If the project is done at a hospital or university laboratory, or equivalent, it is permissible to use equipment that is forbidden in a home environment. Supervision by a professional staff member of the institution is mandatory. The safety rules of the institution must be strictly observed.
  3. Make sure you address all safety issues in your project proposal so your adult supervisors are aware of any issues before you start your project.
  4. If there is any doubt, consult the Ethics and Safety Committee of your Regional Science Fair. This committee, but not the student, may in turn consult the National Ethics & Safety Committee.
  5. If your project involves the participation of humans or the use of animals, you must follow the policies that govern such projects.
  6. Some projects carry more risk than average, and require careful attention to particular safety precautions. The links below discuss some of these cases.
    1. Boilers and Pressure Vessels
    2. Chemistry Safety
    3. Dangerous and Explosive Materials
    4. Firearms and Projectiles
    5. Laser Safety
    6. Microorganisms Safety
    7. Model Rocket Safety
    8. Pesticides
    9. Recombinant DNA and Biotechnological Safety
  7. Serious violations of safety issues may lead to disqualification at either the Regional Science Fair or the Canada Wide Science Fair. This may occur if the project puts the student or others in danger of injury, or if the project was not done with appropriate safety precautions and proper supervision. For example, a student builds a high pressure vessel in the basement. High pressure vessels must be certified by a professional engineer before they are operated, and the engineer is legally required to report violations.
  8. The Safety of your Display at the Fair is important. Most fairs have rules that govern what you can or cannot display at the fair. The rules for the Canada Wide Science Fair are defined in Policy 3.1.2.5 CWSF Project Displays. At most science fairs, including the Canada Wide Science Fair, all projects must pass a mandatory safety check before being allowed to display at the fair. 
  9. We encourage all student participants, their adult supervisors, and Regional Science Fairs to develop a strong safety culture to ensure that no one is ever harmed as a result of a science fair project.