Teachers
Students
Technical Advisors


High School

Approximately one hundred and eighty-four high school student participants in the 2003-2004 Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF) responded to the Final Process Evaluation questions concerning their 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 high school students (who responded) got started:

  • 86.4% participated in the ISTF for the first time.
  • 48.9% of the teachers explained what students needed to know. 
  • 36.4% were responsible for reading the guidelines and asking questions about the program. 
  • Most had a technology, science, English, computers, or physics teacher involved.
  •  39% began their work in October and 25% either began in September or November.
  • 65.3% determined their own ISTF teams.
  • 10.8% said their teachers grouped the teams.
  • 12.5% said they selected teams based on topic choice.

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High school students (who responded) ranked their ISTF preparation priorities:

  • 93.2% decided on a problem and project focus.
  • 85.2% read the Content Guidelines for their grade level and discussed the ISTF Program with their teacher.
  • 84.7% decided on teams.
  • 81.2% discussed what each member of the team would do.
  • 77.8% searched for a technical advisor.

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Working on the ISTF Project

These are teaming problems high school respondents encountered:

  • 76.7% said finding time to work together was difficult.
  • 51.7% identified locating useful information on the Internet as a problem.
  • 49.4% said communicating with their technical advisor.
  • 43.2% said communicating between student team members.
  • 42% identified scheduling meetings as a hindrance.
  • 41.5% said seeing that each person did his/her work was difficult.

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Many student teams experience difficulties when attempting to decide on a topic. About thirty percent of the respondents changed their project focus. Reasons included a change in their interests, a non-specific initial project focus, and a lack of useful information. Respondents imagined participating in the ISTF again and provided some insight into what they would and would not do differently regarding their topic selection:

  • 39.2% would investigate/research first and then decide.
  • 38.1% would not change anything.
  • 26.7% would decide based on the amount of information available.
  • 22.2% would decide based on your experience with/knowledge of the topic.

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About 67% of the respondents had problems managing their time while working on their ISTF Project because:

  • 48.3% had too many other school obligations.
  • 40.9% had difficulty meeting with everyone.
  • 34.7% did not meet often enough.
  • 18.8% reported their teachers and/or technical advisors were unavailable when needed.

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High school respondents maintained and organized information found using the Internet in a variety of ways:

  • 64.8% researched then paraphrased/summarized information from websites.
  • 51.7% printed the information and highlighted the main points.
  • 50.6% stored information on floppy or zip disk.
  • 34.1% copied and pasted information to a word processing document and then transferred it to a web development software program.
  • 32.4% printed the information and stored it in a research folder for the team.
  • 28.4% printed off pages found and typed information directly into our web development software program.

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About 24% called Internet research easy, while 63.6% called it somewhat difficult. Approximately 94% of the respondents shared their research information with other members of the team in these ways:

  • 64.2% used e-mail.
  • 53.4% talked about what each person had learned every time they met.
  • 15.3% put the URL addresses in a List of Favorites so everyone could see.

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A substantial 46% of the respondents did not have technical advisors. Those with technical advisors said they joined the teams throughout the competition period:

  • 17.6% joined in November.
  • 13.6% joined in December.
  • 10.2% joined in January.

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About 30% of the respondents shared research information as they found it with their technical advisors. Approximately 15% of the respondents called their technical advisors very helpful, while 10.2% said their technical advisors were helpful, and 54.5% called their technical advisors somewhat helpful. Respondents that had technical advisors explained how they helped:

  • 27.8% said their technical advisors explained how the teams' project would/would not work.
  • 24.4% said their technical advisors helped students gain a better understanding of the technology related to the projects.
  • 23.3% said their technical advisors provided information and/our useful website URL's.
  • 21% said their technical advisors encouraged us to ask questions and asked the team important questions that helped the students to focus.
  • 14.8% said their technical advisors reviewed/proofread the final project websites.
    • 31.2% shared the URL to the final project website with their technical advisor. 
    • 22.2% did not share this information with their technical advisors.

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Completing the ISTF Project

About 82% of the high school respondents received a grade for their work. But grading pressure did not adversely affect student contentment, as 81% were mostly or completely satisfied with their final product.

Approximately 19% said they would participate in the ISTF again, 42.6% said maybe they would and 38.1% said no. High school respondents who expressed willingness to compete again knew what they would do differently:

  • 48.3% said start earlier.
  • 41.5% said do more preliminary research on possible projects.
  • 29% said work harder to find a focus for your project.
  • 27.8% said choose a different topic.
  • 21.6% said learn how to work together as a team.
  • 20.5% said divide up the tasks so everyone had a chance to work on all parts of the ISTF.

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About 50% deemed the ISTF an interesting activity, and about 50% deemed it a great learning experience. High school respondents explained the ISTF's impact on them:

  • 60.8% said it taught them time management skills.
  • 54% said it helped them learn how to work as part of a team.
  • 49.4% said it made them aware of the difficulty in finding useful Internet information.
  • 36.4% said it made them aware of the importance of a specific technical field.
  • 29% said it showed them that there are interesting careers in science and technology.
    • 6.8% said their participation may lead them to consider a possible career in science or technology.
    • 57.4% were already considering such careers.
    • 35.8% were not considering such careers. 

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