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How to Enter

  1. Review the general guidelines, including the copyright information (download PDF icon) and be sure to follow them when you submit your procedure(s).
  2. Follow the format guidelines (download PDF icon) when filling out the entry form. It may be helpful to review examples of qualifying experiments.
  3. Fill out the entry form, which includes the consent form. (Spanish version of consent form.)
  4. Submit your entry form in one of the following ways:
    fax 301-451-5431
    mail K-12 LAB Challenge
    Office of Science Education, NIH
    6100 Executive Boulevard, Suite 3E01
    Bethesda, MD 20892-7520

Download all entry documents at once (general guidelines, format guidelines, entry form with parental/guardian consent, Spanish consent form, examples).

General Guidelines
  • Submissions will be accepted from now through 11:59 pm CST, Thursday, December 15, 2011.
  • There is no limit to the number of proposals an individual or group can submit. We encourage you to check the K-12 LAB Challenge evaluation rubric before you submit a proposal.
  • Procedures may be submitted on behalf of an individual or group.
  • All LAB Challenge participants will be asked to complete an NIH evaluation at the end of the program.
  • Remember that procedures should be for experiments related to the NIH mission*. This includes everything from health-related physics and chemistry to behavioral and social science experiments.
  • Email or call the Office of Science Education (301-402-2469) with any questions about the submission process. Please check our Frequently Asked Questions page first, if possible.
  • By submitting a procedure, you certify that the procedure is complete and works as is and that you have done the experiment. If you would like to submit something you modified from another source, be sure to include your source on the entry form. If your procedure uses nonhuman vertebrates or humans as your subjects, you must comply with the Intel Science Talent Search Entry Rules 5 and 6 at External Web Site Policy.

Format Guidelines

  • If emailing, submit the proposal as a Microsoft Word or a PDF-formatted document.
  • If you can't submit your proposal online, please follow this format:
    • Set margins to 1″ each on top, bottom, left, and right.
    • The text should be black.
    • The font should be 11-point Arial, except for the title (which should be 12-point Arial, bold, ALL UPPER CASE).
  • Each page of the entry should be numbered and include the last name of the submitter.
  • Each procedure must be entered using the official entry form.
  • Procedures should be no more than six pages long, including photos, graphs, and tables, if used.
  • Procedures can include still photographs of the experiment as part of the six-page-total length. Please do not submit videos.
  • Winning submitters, once notified, will be asked to submit a Microsoft Word version of the proposal to NIH.

The format will look like this:

TITLE OF EXPERIMENT: Needs to be in bold, all UPPER CASE, and Arial 12-point font.

BACKGROUND: Describe how this aligns with what you are learning (or teaching) in science class. Describe the connections to the NIH mission and science, technology, and/or engineering. Also, describe the research that went into developing the experiment and why you or your team chose to submit it.

OBJECTIVE: The description of the experiment purpose can be in paragraph form or as a list introduced by a sentence and no more than six lines.

HYPOTHESIS: This is a statement of an estimate or “educated guess” for solving a problem based on facts, observations, and available data.

DURATION: Describe each of the following time factors.

Total actual in-class time (not to exceed 90 minutes):

Set-up time:

Experiment’s run time:

Take-down time:

MATERIALS: Experiments should use commonly available materials that are either available at no cost or that cost no more than $30 for a class of 30 students. Quantity needed should be in parentheses, and if something must be purchased, include a cost estimate in parentheses. Here is an example of how to list the materials:

Washcloth (2)
Distilled water (1 L)
Thermometer for taking human body temperature
Fine Point Sharpie ($2)
M&Ms (1 lb.; $4)

PROCEDURE: This is a step-by-step explanation of how to do the experiment and should be very detailed. Steps should be written in complete sentences and all punctuation should be used in accordance with the rules of grammar. Use a step number, followed by a period, a space, and the instruction. Steps can contain more than one action. Steps must be numbered sequentially and aligned on the period in a single column. Sub-steps should be numbered sequentially starting with 1.1 following the step number under each step title.

STEP TITLES: If you use these, they should be in all UPPER CASE and underlined.

PHOTOS, FIGURES, AND TABLES: These are not required but are encouraged if they could help others do the experiment. Center the item above the appropriate step. Use the appropriate heading (for example, “Figure”), followed by a number and a concise description of the item. The heading should be centered above each item. The figure, photo, or table number should also be referenced in the step(s) that applies.

DATA ANALYSIS: List specific questions you had. How did the data you collected address your hypothesis and help you answer the questions?

CONCLUSIONS: Describe what you concluded from your observed results.

(See Examples.)

Contestants retain all intellectual property rights in the entry materials, subject to a royalty-free, nonexclusive, irrevocable license for or on behalf of the United States to use, reproduce, create derivative works and distribute any copyrightable works therein to the public in any medium. We regret that we are not able to return the entry materials themselves to the contestant.

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