Code of Ethics

In all steps of scientific research, the researcher must maintain integrity. Students 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

  • firSTep is open to all students attending classes in grades 3 through 12. (at ISB Y4 through Y13).
  • All applications are subject to pre-elimination process.
  • The student should be under twenty-one years of age as of April 1 in the year of participation.
  • A student, or group of students, may not exhibit more than one project each year at the Grand Final of the competition.
  • The project should be done in the last 12 months before entrance in the firSTep.
  • Maximum of THREE members can present a team project at firSTep virtual fair. Other member(s) can join the program as an observer student.
  • Team members cannot be changed in the current year of work but can be altered in the subsequent years. If one of the team members cannot participate in the competition, the project can be presented by the other team member if possible.

General Requirements
All students competing in the firSTep competition must adhere to the rules set by the firSTep.

  • All projects must adhere to the Code of Ethics above.
  • All participants should choose an experimental or investigative project in related areas defined in the firSTep Project category guidelines.
  • 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 which he/she is involved actively.
  • All students MUST register their projects online through the firSTep website and submit the required documents, video and photos.
  • Also, the required paperwork including the Data Protection Agreement should be completed by project supervisors, parents, and adult supervisors to grant the student’s presence in the firSTep competition.
  • All students must attend the firSTep with an adult supervisor. Adult supervisors might be a parent, a teacher, or a project supervisor.
  • The project supervisor should follow the safety rules for projects involving vertebrate animals, biological agents, human subjects, hazardous chemicals, activities, and devices.
  • There will be one responsible staff in every school as the firSTep coordinator 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.
  • The project report including the project abstract, video presentation of the project as well as any photos of the display board must be available to firSTep jury members before the pre-elimination phase. Students should make their own copies of research papers, project journals, and other items to display during their presentation. Displaying such items is not mandatory but is highly recommended.
  • Any continuing projects can participate in the firSTep. 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 report their projects to the organisation committee if it is for multi-year studies.
  • All team members should be fully involved with the project, know all aspects of the project.
    Judging criteria for team projects evaluate the coordinated efforts of all members.
  • All firSTep presentations must adhere to firSTep safety, display, and presentation requirements.
Online Presentation Guidelines (Zoom)

  • Online project evaluation will take place virtually over Zoom and it will take 20 minutes in total. (5 min preparation time in the waiting room, 10 min presentation, 5 min jury questions)
  • Join the Zoom Meeting 5 minutes before your presentation starts according to the judging schedule.
  • Stay in the waiting room until the moderator admits you in the room.
  • Join the Zoom session with your school’s email account and your full name.
  • Use a proper profile photo showing your identity.
  • Don’t use a virtual background.
  • Stay in a well-illuminated room.
  • In group projects, both group members should join and present the project together at the same time.
  • Students in the Scientists and Innovators category will be asked to show their display board and materials if asked.
  • Keep your web camera and microphone on during the presentation.
  • Adjust your camera properly for the jury members to see you and your project materials.
  • Get ready to share the necessary presentation materials (your posters, digital portfolio, equipment, experiment materials, models, prototypes, slides, etc.) during the Zoom session.
  • Start the presentation by introducing yourself and your school.
  • Make sure you wear the school uniform, or you comply with the dress code of your school.
  • Explain the project purpose, methods, results and conclusion, show the project materials, all in 10 minutes.
  • After your 10-min presentation, answer the questions of the jury for another 5 min.

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 practising 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.
Chemicals And Controlled Substances
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 www.msdsonline.com
Hazardous Devices, Radiation and Laser Use
The following guides and links are good resources to learn the regulations regarding the use of hazardous devices and radiation.

Radiation Manual from the Center of Disease Control (CDC): www.cdc.gov/od/ohs/manual/radman.htm

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 1954 www.osha.gov

S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Material Safety and Inspection Branch www.nrc.gov
Video Presentation of the project
Every student/team is supposed to prepare and upload a video of between 2 - 4 min of his/her project with the following conditions:

  • The video should start with the title of the project and firSTep [Edition Year].
  • Please begin with introducing yourself and your school.
  • Explain the project title, purpose, methods, results and conclusion with audio-visual materials in a time interval of minimum 2 min. and maximum 4 min.
  • Demonstrate your experiment or how the project works - if it applies.
  • Make sure you wear the school uniform or you comply with the dress code of your school.
  • Upload your video on YouTube which should be listed only (not publicly available).
  • Include the logo of your school and the text “firSTep [Edition Year] Project Competition” during the last 5 seconds of your video.