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Rules on Invertebrate Experimentation for ISEF

Postby soccerplayer125 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:56 pm

I have a question regarding the ISEF rules for experimentation on invertebrates, specifically seriatopora/bird's nest coral. The goal of the experiment is to find out whether or not tricaine methanesulfonate is toxic or not, and if it is, then to what degree. My experiment involves inserting the coral into a solution of tricaine methanesulfonate (a common, FDA-approved fish sedative) and salt water for the duration of a minute. I was wondering if exposing the coral to a potentially deadly chemical is a violation of the ISEF rules for experimentation, and if a possible euthanization of the coral may require me to conduct experimentation at a research insitution (I plan on experimenting at home). My mentor alerted me by showing me this section of the ISEF Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents rules:

C. Additional Rules for Projects Involving Tissues & Body Fluids, including Blood and Blood Products
Studies involving fresh/frozen tissue, blood or body fluids obtained from humans and/or vertebrate may contain microorganisms and have the potential of causing disease. Therefore, a proper risk assessment is required.

1. If tissues are obtained from an animal that was sacrificed for a purpose other than the students’ project, it may be considered a tissue study. Documentation of the IACUC approval for the original animal study from which tissues are obtained is required.

2. If the animal was euthanized solely for the student’s project, the study must be considered a vertebrate animal project and adhere to the vertebrate animal rules for studies conducted at a regulated research institution. (See the vertebrate animal rules, pg 17.)

I need a response ASAP, because I plan on sending my completed forms by next week. I also need time to move my equipment to a research institution if the rules require me to do so.

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Re: Rules on Invertebrate Experimentation for ISEF

Postby amyc » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:27 am

Hi Soccerplayer125 - I asked our lead staff scientist at Science Buddies to look at your question. In most cases, something very specific like this is something you want to check with the Intel ISEF. We at Science Buddies can't approve anything for you. However, our scientist offered this information:

My understanding of the rules is that invertebrates do not fall under the ISEF tissue regulations even if they are euthanized. However, use of tricaine methanesulfonate will require, at the very least, the completion of a Risk Assessment Form prior to starting the experiments. I find it difficult however, from my reading of the rules, to assess whether these are experiments that are allowed as "home" experiments. Given that the last thing you want to do is be disqualified by a rule technicality, you should contact your local fair's scientific review committee (SRC) and directly address your questions to them. You can start this process by calling or e-mailing the science fair coordinator, they are likely to be listed on the fair's website. The ISEF website also urges students to: Contact the with specific rules questions. I strongly recommend you do this.

I hope that helps. Our advice is to contact ISEF and get an official answer so that you can move forward assured that you are on the right track and within all regulations for the competition.

Good luck!

Science Buddies

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