University of Central Florida 
College of Engineering and Computer Science 
Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF) News Release 
Pre-College Student Team Winners Announced

May 5, 2004 

Out of an initial field of 230 elementary, middle and high school student teams from 12 states and two countries, students from schools in Oklahoma, New Jersey, Tennessee and California captured top awards in the 8th annual Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF). The program challenges students to use National Critical Technology (NCT) applications - as defined by the RAND Corporation in conjunction with the Office of Science, Technology and Policy - to solve real-world problems using information technology tools. Students develop critical thinking skills as they work on-line with practicing professionals and publish their final research findings in a webpage format. 

The six teams that won the highest honors Meritorious Achievement Awards from the National Medal of Technology Program of the U.S. Department of Commerce - were from: 

  • Oklahoma School of Science and Math (Enid Regional Center), Enid, Oklahoma, for a project the team "theorized is an electrical power grid with the use of superconductors in the generators, cables, fault current limiters, and transformers."
  • Elizabeth Haddon Elementary School in Haddonfield, New Jersey, for a project that explored the development and use of sensors and other telecommunication devices to communicate with drivers who are searching for parking spaces in their town's business district.
  • Farragut High School in Farragut, Tennessee, where the student team researched the use of bioluminescent sensor implants for monitoring glucose levels in diabetics.
  • Valley Christian Junior High School, San Jose, California, for a project the team researched that could benefit the visually impaired by helping them use the Internet, Braille, and synthetic speech output.
  • Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, NJ, with two winning teams that:
    • researched creation of a device to test glucose in a pain-free way, and
    • explored how sensors could be used to monitor an infant in a crib to combat risk factors related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In addition, thirteen other teams - including nine senior and junior high school teams and four elementary school teams (a record this year) - earned Honorable Mention Certificates from the University of Central Florida's (UCF) College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), host institution for the ISTF. All finalists, award recipients, and winning projects of this program year and years past are viewable on the Winners page. 

The ISTF teaches students how to team, communicate and manage electronic information sources. Equally valuable is the fact that students recognize the knowledge they acquired. As the members of one winning team explained, "Of the many lessons we have learned, the three most significant are: teamwork and cooperation, responsibility and organization, and recognizing and accepting reality." 

Practicing professionals (such as scientists and engineers) participated on-line as subject matter experts. These extremely busy people sometimes have only a limited amount of time to aid the students, but others crave more project involvement. One professional remarked in the final evaluation that, "Student teams should involve the technical advisor in each step in developing the project. There may be reluctance to overwhelm the advisor; however, they would learn more and the project would progress faster." 

Yet in the final analysis, it is the teacher who is the team leader, supporting the students throughout the four-month project duration. And most teachers recognize the program as a learning experience that combines both theory and practice in a way that complements classroom activities. As one teacher remarked in the final evaluation, "I think it [the ISTF] allows students [to] experience how involved research is. They don't fully understand this with classroom labs. It also gives them a chance to develop their skills of working with others toward completing a common goal which is necessary no matter what is in their future."

The 9th annual ISTF competition officially starts in September 2004. Interested teachers, practicing professionals, parents and others are encouraged to provide contact and general information at the "My ISTF" page to receive program updates via e-mail.

ISTF Director 
Office of Special Programs 
College of Engineering and Computer Science 
University of Central Florida 
E-mail: director@istf.ucf.edu