Teachers
Students
Technical Advisors


Elementary School

Approximately twenty-five elementary school student participants in the 2003-2004 Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF) responded to the Final Process Evaluation questions concerning the preparation for, work on, and completion of their projects. Below is a bulleted summary of the information these students provided. The primary purpose of this report is to present teachers with a collection of students' opinions regarding the program and aid teachers in planning, managing, and finishing participation in an ISTF competition. The secondary goal is to present the same information for students, technical advisors, parents, administrators, and any other interested parties.

* You can also read what the students thought "In Their Own Words."


Preparing for the ISTF Project

Here are some interesting facts about how the elementary school students (who responded) got started:

  • 92% participated for the first time.
  • 56% said the teacher explained what they needed to know, while 28% were responsible for reading the guidelines and asking questions about the program.
  • Most had a science or technology teacher leading the way.
  • Most began working on their ISTF projects during September and October.
  • 88% decided on a problem and then a project focus. 
  • 48% decided on teams while an equal percentage searched for a technical advisor.

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Working on the ISTF Project

Teaming presented a new challenge for most elementary students (who responded) because:

  • 60% had difficulties seeing that each person did his/her work.
  • 52% were concerned about who would do what. 
  • 48% had a problem locating useful information on the Internet.
  • 36% said communicating between student team members was a problem.
  • 36% had a difficult time agreeing on the project focus.

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Many student teams experience difficulties when attempting to decide on a topic. Forty-four percent of the student teams' projects had changed because either their interests changed or because the problem had already been solved. Students (who responded) imagined participating in the ISTF again and provided some insight into what they would and would not do differently regarding their topic selection:

  • 48% would not change anything.
  • 24% would investigate/research first and then decide on a topic.
  • 24% would decide on a topic earlier. 

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Student teams face many challenges while working on their ISTF projects. While 56% did not have problems managing their time, 44% did. Finding time to meet with all team members was the leading problem. Internet research also caused problems for elementary school students, as 76% reported that doing research on the Internet was somewhat difficult. Fortunately, the technical advisor's role partly involves aiding students with their research, but unfortunately, 40% of the students were unable to locate technical advisors until December. And more than half of the students began building their final project websites in January.

More than 80% of elementary students maintained and organized their information by printing it from the Internet and storing it in a research folder for the team. Less than half copied and pasted information to a word processing document and then transferred it to a web development software program. Regardless of how the students chose to store their research, 84% of respondents that they had technical advisors shared that information with their technical advisor as it was obtained. 

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Teams that had technical advisors explained the roles they assumed and the relationship:

  • 72% said their technical advisors helped the students gain a better understanding of the technology related to their project.
  • 68% said their technical advisors reviewed/proofread final project websites.
  • 64% said their technical advisors explained how the teams' projects would/would not work.
  • 48% said their technical advisors asked the teams important questions that helped the students focus and an equal percentage provided information and/or useful website URL's.
  • 68% said their technical advisor was very helpful and 32% said they were helpful.
  • 92% said they shared their URL's to their websites with their technical advisors prior to their teachers submitting the final projects.

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Completing the ISTF Project

The lack of grading pressure may have positively contributed to the students' satisfaction with their final products, as 92% did not receive a grade for working on the ISTF. Ninety-six percent of elementary school students were mostly or completely satisfied with their final project websites; 64% said they would like to participate in the ISTF again while 36% said maybe. Those who expressed willingness to compete again knew what they would do differently:

  • Almost half said they would like to start earlier if they participate again.  32% said they would work harder to find a focus for their project and do more preliminary research on possible projects.
  • 36% said they would have selected a different project focus.
  • 84% of the students indicated they believed the ISTF was a great learning experience.

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Elementary school students (who responded) explained the ISTF's impact on them:

  • 68% learned time-management skills.
  • 56% learned how to work as part of a team.
  • 52% learned there are interesting careers in science and technology.
  • 48% became better prepared to enter mathematics, science, and/or technology courses in the future.
  • 44% became aware of the importance of a specific technical field.
  • 36% were aware of the difficulty in finding useful Internet information.
  • 12% said the ISTF influenced their future career decisions.
    • 20% said their ISTF experience helped them to consider a possible career in science or technology. 
    • 28% said they were already considering careers in science and technology and 52% said they were not.

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* You can also read what the students thought "In Their Own Words."