Conducting the research and exhibiting

When conducting research, you must abide by the laws of the Republic of South Africa and the Expo rules and regulations for both conducting the research and exhibiting it. There are two processes that projects go through at Expo:


1. Ethics

Violations within the project
More info

2. Project display approval

Compliance, safety and branding. Get the project ready for judging.
More info


Violations within the project
Ethics refers to moral principles that determine what is right or wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair, responsible or irresponsible when conducting any activity. At Expo, the entire research is reviewed for any ethics transgressions, such as plagiarism and unethical methods of experimentation and data collection, especially unethical human and animal testing. Eskom Expo upholds a high standard for all research especially experimental work, in line with the protocols established by the scientific community.

Ethics Statement

“Any research involving testing on vertebrates and invertebrates, i.e. human and animal testing, including physiological, psychological tests, must be done in a recognised research institution where ethical clearance has been granted by that institution. Such testing has to be done in the presence of a qualified scientist. Evidence of ethical clearance from the institution and proof of supervision from the qualified scientist must be presented to the judges, at all Expo events. The Ethics Committee will review the evidence provided and make a ruling regarding the ethics of the project. In the event that the testing or any procedure has been classified as unethical, according to Eskom Expo for Young Scientists regulations, the project will be disqualified and may be removed from the exhibition. At Expo, no plagiarism in any form is permitted.”

Ethics Process

When developing research projects, learners need to take into consideration possible Ethics issues that may arise from their research methods. The learner must be able to discuss potential issues with key role players in their project. Key role players may be the following:

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Regional Science Fair Director

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Provincial Coordinator

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Ethics Committee

The Expo Ethics Review is done in 2 stages

Ethics Guidelines

Read the full Expo Ethics Guidelines here. All ethics related queries must be sent to

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Human Testing

If your research project will involve humans (whether yourself, family or any other person), in any way, you must commit to their well-being, protection and safety. Determine whether or not your research will appear safe, reasonable and acceptable. Avoid any harm the research might cause to the participants e.g. pain, stress, fatigue, emotional distress, and embarrassment.

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Animal Testing

Research on animals, both vertebrates and invertebrates, must be conducted without causing any harm or distress. You will need ethical clearance from the Expo ethics review committee ( and a recognised research institute. Avoid any harm the research might cause to the animals e.g. pain, stress, fatigue and emotional distress.

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Hazardous Biological Agents

Hazardous Biological Agents (HBAs) are microorganisms or toxins that may cause an infection, allergy or otherwise pose a hazard to human health. They are classified into four groups, according to their hazard level.

Group 1

HBAs are unlikely to cause human infection; e.g. Yeast

Group 2

HBAs may cause human infection, be a hazard to exposed persons and are unlikely to spread. Effective prophylaxis and treatment is usually available; e.g. Influenza A and B, Neisseria meningitides, Legionella pneumophila

Group 3

HBAs may cause severe human disease, which presents a serious hazard to exposed persons and may present a risk of spreading. They have no effective prophylaxis and treatment available; e.g. HIV, Bacillus anthracis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Group 4

HBAs cause severe human infections and are a serious hazard to exposed persons and may present a high risk of spreading. They have no effective prophylaxis and treatment available; e.g.  Ebola
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Hazardous chemicals, devices or activities

Hazardous chemicals

Hazardous chemicals are substances that can cause adverse health effects such as poisoning, breathing problems, skin rashes, allergic reactions, and other health problems from exposure. They can cause fires, explosions, corrosion, and hazardous reactions if not handled safely. These substances are regulated by local, provincial, or national law, most often with restrictions of their use by minors.

Hazardous devices

Hazardous devices are devices that can cause harm to or increase the level of risk above and beyond that encountered in the participants’ everyday life. Some of these devices are regulated by local, provincial, or national law, most often with restrictions of their use by minors.

Hazardous activities

Hazardous activities are those that involve a level of risk above and beyond that encountered in the participants’ everyday life.
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Review Committees

Ethics Committee

This committee consists of a group of qualified and experienced professionals in the sciences, who inspects and reviews projects that have been flagged for the following:

  • Breaking or transgression of any law of the country,
  • Non-compliance with the Expo Ethics Statement,
  • Non-compliance with the provincial and national rules and laws governing human and animal research,
  • No evidence of risks being properly assessed,
  • No evidence of efforts made to use alternative methods to animal or human testing,
  • Inhumane treatment of animals,
  • Evidence of plagiarism
  • Absence of the required documents and forms required for the research.
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Review Committees

Scientific Review Committee

This committee consists of a group of qualified scientists that are responsible for evaluating research projects that have been flagged at Expo, specifically at the International Science Fair (ISF).

  • Evidence of review from the Expo Ethics Committee
  • Evidence of supervision by an appropriate and qualified adult/scientist,
  • Plagiarism.


Using another person’s words or ideas and presenting them as your own is known as plagiarism. DO NOT submit the same project as your friend, sibling or relative exhibited at a science fair before. Plagiarised projects will be disqualified at any Expo event. All Expo participants must sign a declaration indicating that the research has not been plagiarised.

The following are examples of plagiarism:

  • To steal, copy or borrow another person’s work or any part of their work including their ideas, data, text, pictures, and graphics without their permission
  • To pay another person to do your project for you or write it up. Acknowledge persons for the contributions they made to your project. Their contribution should not be a major part of the science project.
  • To copy directly from a source without referencing the source and without permission from the author(s). Ensure you use in-text referencing and have a reference list.

2. Project Display Approval

Compliance, safety and branding. Get the project ready for judging.

To ensure that your project is eligible to compete at an Expo science fair; it must comply with Expo’s display and safety regulations. A Project Display Approval team identifies issues with the project poster and prototype and provides instructions for further action. During this process, ‘fixable’ issues are rectified before judging takes place. Please note that the following are not allowed at any Expo science fair:

  • Living organisms include bacteria, fungi, animals, insects and plants. These will be confiscated even if it is in a sealed container.
  • Agar plates (petri dish) and other growth mediums for microbiology studies.
  • Human or animal parts include tissues and body fluids (for example blood, urine, hooves, skins etc.).
  • Dangerous chemicals e.g. poisons, drugs, alcohol, medications, controlled substances, hazardous substances.
  • Dangerous devices (for example firearms, weapons, ammunition, reloading devices, knives and any sharp instruments).
  • Flammable substances e.g. methylated spirits.
  • Photographs or other visual presentations depicting humans or vertebrate animals in surgical procedures, dissections, necropsies
    or other lab procedures, or which belittle people in any way, or show animals/humans being harmed in any way.
  • Display of brand names or any branded products e.g. Coca Cola, Raspberry Pi, Valpré, Woolworths, etc.
  • Non-perishable food substances that are not in completely sealed containers (plastic wrap is not acceptable as it can be easily removed). Perishable foods are not allowed at any Expo display.
  • No water is allowed even as part of any experimental apparatus.
  • Any apparatus deemed unsafe by the Eskom Expo organisers or judges.
  • You are not allowed to ask judges/ learners/ public to TASTE any edible substance/food that you made, even if it is known to be edible/healthy.
  • DO NOT share/disclose the interviewee’s personal information. Permission to display photographs must be provided. Faces on photographs that identify the participants should be blocked.
  • Models must not protrude from the table and obstruct spaces or pose any threat to the safety of others.
Failure to comply with the instructions of the Project Display Approval Team/Judges/Expo Officials, including returning confiscated items to the display, may result in disqualification of the project

Sources of Information for Projects