Organizational Handbook - Part Two

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[Student Area|Teacher Area|Judge Area]

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[Local School Evaluation] [Regional STEM Exhibition] [Symposium Prog.]
[Citywide STEM Exhibition] [Independent Research Grant Prog.]
[Advise-a-Student Prog.]
[College Scholarships for Graduating Seniors]


Part Two: Scope of Programs

Local School Evaluation
The STEM Exhibition Handbook is the key source of guidelines and directions for students interested in doing research. The methods used in directing student investigations and in selecting these students to enter a regional STEM Exhibition are determined by the principal and the school STEM Exhibition coordinator. It is recommended that persons with a science and/or mathematics background be selected to judge local projects. The guidelines for judging in the handbook should be used as the criteria for selecting students to represent the local school at the regional STEM Exhibition. Projects that show evidence of research (not demonstrations) should be selected for the regional STEM Exhibition.

The trend in recent years has been to budget time in favor of working with students to develop meaningful research projects rather than in generating a large school exhibition.

Students at the high school level are given the opportunity to submit their scientific research papers directly to the City Symposium Committee. Participation in the symposium is not contingent upon the entry of an exhibit, but the project must include primary research conducted by the student. The research paper requirements are identical in both the project section and the symposium. The difference is that students in the symposium make their presentation to a panel of judges without the advantage of a display.

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Area STEM Exhibition
Projects selected at the school level advance to the regional
STEM Exhibition for further judging. All phases of these fairs are under the direction of the regional committees. Locations, dates, hours, number of exhibits, judges, and supervision are determined by these committees. These STEM Exhibitions are scheduled during the months of January and February but must be concluded prior to February 1.

Regional STEM Exhibition committees receive quotas governing the number of projects that they may send to the citywide STEM Exhibition. The regional committee should seek qualified judges from universities, industry, or secondary schools not in their own region. Judges should be given careful instructions and the guidelines listed in the STEM Exhibition Handbook. The judging should emphasize originality and research. Demonstration projects should not ordinarily receive "Outstanding" and should not be sent to the citywide STEM Exhibition. It is suggested that after the judging is completed, students should be given comment cards that recommend ways they might improve their project and/or presentation prior to the citywide STEM Exhibition.

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Symposium Program

The status of the STEM Exhibition Symposiumis still being determined for the 2021-2022 school year.

Please check back here for updates.

If you have any questions, please email Lucy Young at


High school research papers, processed through the high school STEM Exhibition coordinator and accepted by the Symposium Committee, are presented by the selected students on Thursday of the week of the fair. Each school is allowed to submit no more than 30 papers to the symposium. The 30 papers include both symposium papers and essay papers. The deadline for submission of papers is FIRM and will not be extended. See the Calendar of Events for the deadline date.

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Citywide STEM Exhibition
(Details of a Hybrid Exhibition are still being determined.)

Projects selected at the regional STEM Exhibitions are exhibited at Illinois  Tech during a three-day STEM Exhibition.  Each exhibitor at the citywide STEM Exhibition must be currently enrolled in a Chicago public school, grades 7-12. Seventh- or eighth-grade students may have one partner with their exhibit. High school students may not have a partner.

Approximately 200 exhibits from the 9 regions of the Chicago Public Schools are evaluated by university and industrial judges. Awards given are "outstanding," "excellent," and "honorable mention." Companies and organizations present special awards and tours to selected students. A separate group of judges makes these selections based upon their own criteria.

Specific students will be chosen to represent the Chicago Public Schools at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Approximately 65 students are selected to participate in the exhibition and paper sessions at the Illinois Junior Academy of Science (IJAS) virtually on dates to be determined. Participants in the state STEM Exhibition must meet any and all requirements determined by IJAS rules. Participants in ISEF are bound by all of their published rules.

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Independent Research Grant Program
The purpose of the Research Grant Program is to financially assist students beyond the resources of their classroom teachers and their schools. The Minigrant Program allows students to apply for research grants not to exceed $100 per semester. Students may apply for and receive a maximum of two grants per school year, not to exceed $200. Deadline dates are announced on the Calendar of Events.

The Maxi Grant Program allows students to apply for a one-time-only cash grant of up to $500. A detailed proposal must be submitted to the Research Grant Committee for consideration. If the student's application passes the initial screening, he/she must present his/her proposal in person to the Research Grant Committee.

Funds are awarded directly to the student, not to the school. Research funds are for the purchase of materials that are consumable or are not normally found in the school. The student is responsible for keeping a careful record of expenditures. The student should forward receipts and a written report to the Chairperson of the Research Grant Committee. All non-consumable, serviceable materials must be returned to the student's home school upon completion of the research project. Applications for research grants are found in the appendix of the STEM Exhibition Handbook.

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College Scholarships for Graduating Seniors
Seniors who are prospective graduates of Chicago public high schools and who are participating in or who have participated in a Chicago Public Schools Student
STEM Exhibition either at the regional or city level and/or in a student symposium are urged to file an application for a scholarship. To qualify for a scholarship, a candidate must submit to the Scholarship Committee, by the deadline date, a completed application form with supporting documents. The high school science department chair and high school counselors will supply the scholarship forms and will assist in the processing of the application. Additional applications can be obtained by following this link. The scholarship application is also found in the appendix of the STEM Exhibition Handbook.

The Scholarship Committee, representing business and education, screens all applications and chooses a number of students for interviews. After these interviews, the committee selects the scholarship recipients on the basis of the following:

  • amount of STEM Exhibition participation and levels of achievement
  • academic profile: types of courses and grades, class rank, and standardized test results
  • career objectives
  • extracurricular activities (school and community)
  • personal characteristics and letters of recommendations
  • written autobiography

There are monetary scholarships which are awarded directly to the student, as well as college and university scholarships. Near the end of the school year, education and business leaders present the scholarships at an awards reception.

A list of university scholarships made available to Student STEM Exhibition, Inc., for seniors graduating from Chicago public high schools in June, 2018 appears in the STEM Exhibition Handbook.

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