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 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. 

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: 

  • Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, New Jersey, for a project in which the team offers "a new type of battery, which generates energy through magnetism and is environmentally safe," as an alternative to fossil fuels and other pollutants.
  • Inez Science and Technology Magnet Elementary School, Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a project that involved the design of "window blinds using photovoltaic cells that will convert sunlight into energy to help schools."
  • Sterling Park Elementary, Casselberry, Florida, where the student team researched the reduction of petroleum use through photovoltaic panels that will provide solar power to airplanes.
  • OSSM / Autry Technology Center, Enid, Oklahoma, for a team that proposed a genetic screening process to allow for early detection and treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease), a degenerative brain disease.
  • Lakewood High School, St. Petersburg, Florida, for a project that involves applying "smaller, easier to use, more affordable, and portable EEG Biofeedback" to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • Osbourn High School, Manassas, Virginia, for a team that researched layering different materials on road surfaces "to improve moisture stability, reduce oxidation, and add durability while allowing for water permeation to lessen weathering, such as damage from low temperatures, rutting, age, and wear from heavy traffic." 

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.

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