are dedicated men and women who support student teams as they develop
Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF) projects. These professionals
act as both mentors and advisors while helping students perform
scientific research on the Internet.
Because students have not worked with professional scientists and
technology experts either in person or using the Internet, there is
usually a period early in the
competition when communication between technical advisors and
teams is sporadic. Teams are working to refine their projects and this involves a great deal
of research and team interaction. What many student teams do not realize is
that this is a crucial period in which their technical advisor can help them hone in on a realistic project that is technically feasible and
that can be completed within the allotted timeframe of the ISTF.
In the past we have advised teachers that students should not overburden their technical advisors with too many e-mails. However,
some technical advisors indicate in
their evaluations that they would prefer that the teams communicate more frequently
at the beginning of the ISTF project to avoid problems later.
And some technical advisors further maintained
that continuing communication and periodic updates would have made a significant difference in the outcome of
their teams' projects.
Usually, half of the teams enrolled in the ISTF
competition have a dedicated technical advisor. Student teams
that are unable to find a technical professional have often made significant efforts to
do so. Some have reported in their evaluations that they feel as though
persons they contact are
just not interested. This is very discouraging to these teams.
Although students can complete without a
mentor, we do not encourage this and will continue our efforts to enlist the aid of professionals. This interaction is both central and essential to the success of the ISTF experience.
It is through continuing communication of all team members that students
begin to understand the importance of scientists, engineers and
and the impact of their work on real-world problems. This
linking of students with professionals is also an unparalleled opportunity
for students to learn more about the many fields of science and
engineering and related career opportunities.