Project Categories

Each project must be entered into one of the 17 science, math, and engineering categories below.  Many projects can easily fit into more than one Intel ISEF category, therefore, it is your decision to choose the category that most accurately describes your project.

Ask yourself the following questions to help in the selection of a category:

  1. Who will be the most qualified to judge my project?  What area of expertise is the most important for the judge to have? (For example, a medical background or an engineering background?)
  2. What is the emphasis of my project?  What characteristic of my project is the most innovative, unique or important?  (For example, is it the application in medicine or the engineering of the machine?)

Please note:  Fair officials reserve the right to combine similar categories into larger judging groups to streamline the judging process.  Please visit our archives to see how we have grouped together categories in the past.

Animal Sciences

Study of animals – animal genetics, ornithology, ichthyology, herpetology, entomology, animal ecology, animal anatomy and physiology, circadian rhythms, animal husbandry, histology, animal physiology, invertebrate physiology, studies of invertebrates, animal development, animal pathology, population genetics, systematics, etc.

Behavioral and Social Sciences

Human behavior, social and community relationships–psychology, sociology, anthropology, archaeology, ethology, ethnology, linguistics, learning, perception, urban problems, reading problems, public opinion surveys, educational testing, clinical and developmental psychology, etc.


Chemistry of life processes – general biochemistry, metabolism, structural biochemistry, protein chemistry, food chemistry, hormones, etc.

Cellular and Molecular Biology

Cellular biology, cellular physiology, cellular and molecular genetics, immunology, molecular biology, etc.


Study of nature and composition of matter and laws governing it – general chemistry, organic chemistry (other than biochemistry), inorganic chemistry, materials, plastics, pesticides, metallurgy, soil chemistry, physical chemistry, etc.

Computer Science

Study and development of computer hardware, software engineering, Internet networking and communications, databases, graphics (including human interface), simulations / virtual reality or computational science, artificial intelligence, networking, operating systems, etc.

Earth and Planetary Science

Geology, mineralogy, physiography, geochemistry, oceanography, meteorology, climatology, weather, speleology, seismology, geography, geophysics, planetary science, tectonics, etc.

Electrical and Mechanical Engineering

Technology projects that directly apply principles to practical uses – electrical, computer engineering, controls, mechanical, thermodynamics, solar, robotics, etc.

Energy and Transportation

Aerospace and aeronautical engineering, aerodynamics, alternative fuels, fossil fuel energy, vehicle development, renewable energies, etc.

Environmental Management

Bioremediation, ecosystems management, environmental engineering, land resource management, forestry, recycling, waste management, etc.

Environmental Sciences

Study of air pollution and air quality, soil contamination and soil quality, water pollution and water quality, etc.

Materials and Bioengineering

Technology projects that directly apply scientific principles to manufacturing and practical uses – civil, construction, mechanical, industrial, chemical, processing, material science, etc.

Mathematical Sciences

Development of formal logical systems or various numerical and algebraic computations, and the application of these principles – calculus, geometry, abstract algebra, number theory, statistics, complex analysis and probability, etc.

Medicine and Health Sciences

Disease diagnosis and treatment, epidemiology, dentistry, pharmacology, pathology, ophthalmology, nutrition, sanitation, dermatology, allergies, speech and hearing, genetics, molecular biology of diseases, etc.


Biology of microorganisms – bacteriology, virology, protozoology, fungi, bacterial genetics, yeast, antibiotics, antimicrobials, etc.

Physics and Astronomy

Theories, principles, and laws governing energy and the effect of energy on matter – solid state, optics, acoustics, particle, nuclear, atomic, molecules, solids, plasma, superconductivity, fluid and gas dynamics, thermodynamics, semiconductors, magnetics, quantum mechanics, biophysics, electromagnetics, optics, lasers, masers, theoretical physics, basic astronomy, theoretical astronomy, computational astronomy, etc.

Plant Sciences

Study of plant life – agriculture, agronomy, horticulture, forestry, plant physiology, plant pathology, plant genetics, hydroponics, plant ecology, photosynthesis, plant systematics, evolution, etc.