Teachers
Students
Technical Advisors


Elementary School

Approximately seventeen elementary school student participants in the 2004-2005 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:

  • 47% participated for the first time.
  • 35% said the teacher explained what they needed to know, while 29% were responsible for reading the guidelines and asking questions about the program.
  • Science or technology teachers led most teams, but English, math, and gifted teachers also directed a significant number of students.
  • Most began working on their ISTF projects during October and November.
  • 88% decided on a problem and then a project focus. 
  • 47% discussed the ISTF Program with their teacher while 65% read the Content Guidelines for their grade level.

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Working on the ISTF Project

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

  • 77% reported that deciding who would do what presented difficulty.
  • 65% had difficulties seeing that each person did his/her work.
  • 59% had a problem locating useful information on the Internet.
  • 35% had a difficult time agreeing on the project focus.
  • 24% reported that communicating with their technical advisors presented difficulty.

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Many student teams experience difficulties when attempting to decide on a topic. Forty-seven 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 as to what they would and would not do differently regarding their topic selection:

  • 47% would not have it assigned.
  • 35% would not change anything.
  • 29% would investigate/research first and then decide on a topic.
  • 29% would discuss amongst group members and then decide.
  • 12% would decide on a topic earlier. 

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Student teams face many challenges while working on their ISTF projects. While 77% did not have problems managing their time, 23% did. The majority of students claimed their team did not have enough time. Internet research also caused problems for elementary school students, as 65% reported that doing research on the Internet was somewhat difficult to hard. Fortunately, the technical advisor's role partly involves aiding students with their research. And 100% of elementary respondents had technical advisors with 77% of the students locating technical advisors right away in September. About 76% believed that their technical advisors were helpful to very helpful. And almost all of the students began building their final project websites in January or February.

About 35% of elementary students maintained and organized their information by printing it from the Internet and storing it in a research folder for the team. While 65% took notes, 24% printed the information and highlighted the main points. And 12% 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, 89% 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:

  • 47% helped the students gain a better understanding of the technology related to their project.
  • 29% said their technical advisors helped the students gain a better understanding of the technology related to their project.
  • 29% said their technical advisors reviewed/proofread final project websites.
  • 29% said their technical advisors asked the teams important questions that helped the students focus, while 65% provided information and/or useful website URL's.
  • 59% 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 59% did not receive a grade for working on the ISTF. Ninety-four percent of elementary school students were mostly or completely satisfied with their final project websites; 65% said they would like to participate in the ISTF again while 18% said maybe. Those who expressed willingness to compete again knew what they would do differently:

  • 77% said they would like to start earlier if they participate again. 18% said they would work harder to find a focus for their project and do more preliminary research on possible projects.
  • 59% said they would have selected a different topic.
  • 71% of the students indicated they believed the ISTF was a great learning experience, and 65% called it an interesting activity.

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

  • 65% learned how to work as part of a team.
  • 47% became aware of the importance of a specific technical field.
  • 53% learned time-management skills.
  • 35% learned there are interesting careers in science and technology.
  • 35% became better prepared to enter mathematics, science, and/or technology courses in the future.
  • 35% were aware of the difficulty in finding useful Internet information.
  • 6% said the ISTF influenced their future career decisions.

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