University of Central Florida
May 9, 2005
Out of an initial field of 250 elementary, middle and high school student teams from 10 states, students from schools in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Florida, New Jersey and Virginia 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.
In addition, fifteen other teams - including twelve senior and junior high school teams and three elementary school teams - 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. The members of one student team cited a very important lesson learned, "This project was a very unique project, like no other, and we have learned that life is full of deadlines and if you do not fulfill those deadlines then you will have trouble in being a successful person."
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, "They (the students) learned that through collaboration with engineering and scientific specialists their initial ideas can be refined into a very workable and practical system."
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 allows students to think outside of the same old science fair project. It allows them to see that Science has real world applications. The use of the Internet allows them to experience the vast amount of work that is going on in Science without having to leave the classroom"."
The 9th annual ISTF competition officially starts in September 2005. 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.