This page mostly contains student commentary related to the ISTF Final Process Evaluation.
Approximately two hundred and sixty-seven middle school student participants in the 2003-2004 Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF) responded to questions concerning their preparation for, work on, and completion of their projects. Below is a summary of the information these students provided supplemented by their comments.
Middle school students explained how they determined what they needed to do, who would participate, and who would assume which roles:
We (the students) had to go to the ISTF website and choose three topics that we would be interested in doing our project on. Then our teacher looked through everyone's decisions and formed groups by putting people with alike interests together.
Each member put names on a paper of who they want in the group. The teacher looked at all the names, and picked the groups she thought would work.
The teacher discussed the topics and had us write down our top 3 that we would like to work on, we gave her a paper with these choices on them and she assigned us groups based on the choices.
I tried to keep everyone on task and organize who was doing which part of what component. I checked our progress and did certain components as well.
During the ISTF project, all of the members of the team researched about our topic. I was responsible for editing Component One, writing Component Three, and emailing the technical advisor for Component Three.
My role in the team was to basically keep everything neatly together. I maintained the Notebook of everything, and made sure that everything was organized. During the project, I wrote to Teaming and Communications page on our website, and also took all of the pictures.
Middle school students took steps to narrow their project focus:
We thought about what the true nature of the problem was, than how it could be solved. By focusing on one specific problem, rather than a large one, it gave us an easier job and enabled more focus in the problem area.
First we brainstormed for a problem to solve, and after research, our technical advisor helped us finalize the technology we would be using.
As a team, we discussed possible projects to work on. Eventually we decided on two possible feasible projects that interested us, and began researching one of them. However, that quickly lead to a dead end, so we switched to the project we ended up completing.
We discussed things within our group, as well as with our teacher before we made the final decision to stick with that topic. In addition, our advisor warned us when our topic focus was getting unreasonable or too broad. We also researched to get background information on what would actually work.
We first came up with what we thought would be a good project focus, and then we asked our teacher and got feedback from her. After we revised it again we emailed it to our mentor and then he gave us feedback on our focus and then we revised it again and sent the newly revised one back to our mentor once again for his feedback.
Middle school students discussed teaming and research problems and solutions:
It took a long time to find a technical advisor. Certain members of the group refused to do their part of the
Some students in our group didn't do the work that they were supposed to do, creating excess work loads for others.
We fooled around too much and rushed at the end.
Because there is so much information available on the [I]nternet, it was difficult to narrow it down and find the relevant information. It was also difficult to find the exact information we were looking for.
We could find information on our topic, but much of it was complicated and irrelevant. Finally we did end up with enough information but it took longer than it might have if we had picked a topic that was more popular and had more information.
A majority of the information available was very technical, and difficult to understand without much prior knowledge.
Our subject was somewhat obscure and most of the information was either over-simplified or very technical in nature. Therefore it was difficult to find information that we could understand AND use.
We also typed summaries of our research into Microsoft Word and then transferred it to the web.
We also kept a written log of all the research and made outlines.
We placed everything we researched in a research log and any papers in our ISTF folder.
We had outlines to do, in which we would write down the web address, site name, and three major points from the site. This was a good way to maintain information.
Middle school students explained the help their technical advisors provided:
Our technical advisors gave us opinions on our new improvement reviewed each Components as they were completed, and gave us suggestions.
(Our technical advisor) came up with suggestions to make our project more interesting.
Our team had an very difficult time locating an technical advisor but when we did find him he provided so much support and beyond the level of understanding.
Middle school students explained how satisfied they were with their ISTF final project websites:
Overall, the ISTF project went very well. Due to my team's incessant amount of work on the project, we made the project the best it could be and included an immense amount of information in our components. We also had great communication with our advisor, who helped to make adjustments to our project.
I learned so much doing this project and I am completely satisfied with the outcome of the project.
We had done well considering that it was a particularly hard project. The site looks cool.
Many factors acted against us during the course of this project. But we overcame obstacles like vanishing advisors and lack of time and completed the project as best as we could.
I am ever so pleased because this is the first time I ever created a website. Knowing the information is correct and will help people in the future makes me ecstatic.
We worked very hard on our website and our proud of what we have accomplished.
The majority of middle school respondents reported that they are now or were already considering a technical career:
ISTF lead me to consider a possible career in engineering because I learned how important technology is today, and that engineering plays a important role in it.
I might consider being an Engineer because I liked the idea of designing different inventions.
I might consider looking toward some type of scientist or genetic engineer. It was this project that first led me in that direction.
Some students had already determined other fields:
I did enjoy it and I might have considered it but that i already have dreams of what I want to be (a lawyer or author.) However, were those to fall through I do believe that this has shown me that engineering and science might be good opportunities.
My ISTF project gave me a broader scope on the field of science and technology, specifically how technology is actually applied by business firms. But my main interest and passion is in the arts (mainly music).
I'm an athlete, not a scientist.
The furthest into the future I think is next week.
Middle school students conveyed their feelings about the ISTF experience:
I would like to participate in the ISTF again, but on a different topic, because it allowed me to research and find out about possible careers.
I do not know if I could go through choosing another project and starting from scratch all over again, but it was one of the more interesting projects I have participated in.
It is too stressful, and I found it aggravating to have to depend on people who couldn't be depended on.
It is a project that makes me think.
I thought it was very interesting and fun. It was a great experience in learning about teamwork and cooperation. It also opened my eyes to more technological fields.
Some of the components required redundant explanations, making it unnecessarily lengthy. However, most of what was required helped to frame my thought processes so that overall it was a very good experience.
I would like to participate in another ISTF project because it was very challenging it lead me to think beyond my years.
This project was an good challenge and it stimulated my brain to think beyond what is expected of me.
I might be interested in doing ISTF again. It was a a large time commitment but in the end it is such a rewarding accomplishment.
Allows students to research and receive a greater understanding on topics that interest them, also enables them to work as a team and create a website, something than many students do not get a chance to do.
I think that it is a learning experience, but not a fun one.
Time consuming, but worth it.
This project was a fantastic opportunity to be creative and discover the process of invention. It was a great privilege to consult with a specialist from Microsoft.
Working as a team, I believe, is more difficult than working alone. This helped me work better with a team.