During the ISTF
While the students will be
doing the lion's share of the work on Internet Science and Technology Fair
(ISTF) Projects, the teacher is by every definition the Project Facilitator.
Your role is essential during this period of the ISTF Program. The following are
some of the key areas where your guidance, assistance and intervention will make
a significant difference.
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||Communication within the student team
||Communication within the student team
team is key to producing a competitive project.
||Student team members need to communicate
on a regular basis to discuss their work. Help them develop
a schedule for meetings.
||Meeting with your student team(s)
regularly is recommended, especially if their project is
extra-curricular in nature.
||Have a plan in place for handling
technical problems (Internet access, computer problems,
etc.) and what students should do in your absence.
||Communicating with a team's technical
advisor(s) is essential
||In the past we have advised teams
not to overburden their technical advisor
with too many e-mails. However, in the evaluation
of the ISTF, many technical advisors felt they were not
||As soon as a technical advisor is
located, the next step is to have him or her setup a
technical advisor account. This will enable a team's
advisor to participate in the required progress report and the
Final Process Evaluation.
||Determine how often the technical
advisor feels that he or she would be interested in
communicating with the team and make sure the team
abides by this request. As a rule of thumb, the Office
of Special Programs, administrator of the ISTF,
has advised practicing professionals that they could be
contacted by student teams up to twice per week.
||In past-year competitions, some
student teams had more than one technical advisor. This
is especially noticed at the high school level where
teams research a technical application and then try to
determine what the business aspects of developing such a
project or process entails. Therefore, teams may need
scientific expertise in one area; business knowledge in
||Communicate with a media specialist /
||Keeping the technology expert
who will help with developing the website informed
is very important for he or she too has time
||This person also needs to know
what kind of website is to be built and what types
of plug-ins are permitted.
||Printing out the Format Guidelines
and directing the website expert to the Winners section
will give him or her a blueprint of what teams have
created in the past.
||Communicate with the school's
||In some cases, teachers have
become involved in the ISTF because their
principals have asked them to put together a
||Last year's evaluations
pointed out that if the principal of a school
was more involved, the team received more help
towards the end of the project.
||Communicating with the
principal was a good reminder that the team
would be adding its project to the school's
||Additional areas where your
direction is important include:
||Over half of the
students in last year's program indicated
they had a difficult time doing research on
the Internet. We suggest that students go
beyond the search engines that come up when
the Internet is first accessed and use
sources such as Search Engine Watch.
This site provides a host of sources
students can choose from, including
information on searches that are strictly
scientific in nature.
||An area of major concern
to technical advisors was the inability of
student teams to narrow the project focus.
Discuss with students the focus of their
project and make sure they and their
technical advisor share a common vision for
the outcome. Help them to be realistic about
the scope of what they can accomplish within
the timeframe of the ISTF.
||Finding a technical
advisor can be difficult. Be sure the teams
looking for technical advisors have written
a concise and to-the-point explanation of
the project they are working on and the
technical application they will be
researching. Until mid-November,
students may contact possible technical
advisors by telephone, mail, e-mail or in
person. After mid-November, all contact
must be done by e-mail. Once a technical
advisor has been located, remind the teams
frequently to contact him or her with
questions, ideas, and requests for
||In past years, the ISTF
staff evaluated how student teams managed
the research information they collected for
the first time. It was evenly divided
between teams that printed off information
and shared it with teammates
and teams that e-mailed information between
team members. There were a couple of teams
that had developed a central depository that
each team member could access to store and
view information. It is advised that
whatever method is used, all members are
aware of the procedure and there is a
back-up for the potential loss of data.
||Teams may need timelines to
help them stay on track. Using the ISTF Schedule,
you may want to help your teams devise such
a timeline so that everyone is clear about
how their projects are progressing.
||During the year, the
Office of Special Programs, administrator of
the ISTF, asks that teams including
students, teachers and technical advisors
complete an on-line Progress Report. This
evaluation helps us to determine which teams
may need help, whether teams are working on
the same topic they began with or if teams
have dropped out of the competition.
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