Preparing for the ISTF

Below is a listing of important first steps to consider when introducing the Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF) Program in your classroom or as an after-school program. This section should be read thoroughly, especially by teachers/facilitators participating for the first time, so that you can understand how the process works and thereby can explain the same to your students.


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Familiarize yourself with the Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF) website.
Review Content Guidelines for your students' grade grouping.
The Content Guidelines are the "heart" of the ISTF. They contain the map for completion of an ISTF Project.
We have revised the Content Guidelines. If you have questions or need clarification, please contact the ISTF Program Director.
Teachers of ninth graders should read Content Guidelines for both Middle and High School and select the level on which teams will be working.
In the Winners section, you will find previous ISTF awardees. Using the Content Guidelines as a map, evaluate these sites.
View the National Critical Technologies (NCTs), Technology Sub-Areas, and Technical Applications.
Each ISTF Project must relate to one of seven National Critical Technologies (NCTs) and an NCT Technology Sub-Area.
Within each NCT category, you will find Technology Sub-Areas. In many cases you will have access to more detailed explanations of technical applications that have been developed within these sub-areas.
Decision-making. Are you going to decide for the students which NCTs they should work with or are you going to allow them to select the NCT that interests them?
Decide how the ISTF is to be incorporated.
In the classroom as a science or technology project?
As an after-school project?
As an extracurricular activity?
Will credit be given? If so, for what specific class or classes?
Share what you are doing with other teachers/facilitators and your principal/supervisor.
Coordinate with the media specialist or technology teacher at your school so you know that your students will be able to build a website.
We suggest sharing this project with other teachers also. It is always good to have another teacher or teachers read the finished ISTF Project for use of language, grammar, spelling, etc.
Share with your principal that you will be enrolling a team or teams in the ISTF and ask him or her to look at the ISTF website. Most teams post their website as an addendum to the school's website so you will need permission from your principal for this.
Selecting teams
From experience, it looks as if team sizes from 3 to 7 students work best. NOTE: There must be at least three students on a team. There is not a maximum limit on the number of students per team.
Students themselves seemed to feel that joining a team because the topic interested them kept them focused.
Technical Advisors
Students need to understand that the technical advisor is a crucial part of any ISTF team and directly contributes to the team's success.
Be familiar with the technical advisor's role.
Technical advisors may be parents of students, a person in the community who has expertise related to the NCT the team will be studying, a professional person found by using Internet searches of: governmental agencies, research centers, colleges and universities, professional organizations and associations, or a teacher at your school who has appropriate expertise and can provide technical guidance to the student team.
Teams' first duties usually include:
Deciding on topic
Beginning research
Finding a technical advisor
Creating a 50-word description about the problem the team has selected (Problem/Research Statement).
Creating a 50-word description that explains how they intend to solve the problem they described using the NCT technical application they select (Project Solution Statement).
Creating a project title.
Enrolling your Team(s)
To Enroll a team (after you have setup a teacher account) you will need:
The NCT Category and NCT Technology Sub-Area
Project Title(s)
Problem/Research Statement
Project Solution Statement
Permission to have the Project Website hosted on your schools website from February 2016 to the end of May 2016
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