Teachers
Students
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High School

Approximately four-hundred and forty-two high school student participants in the 2004-2005 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:

  • 92% participated in the ISTF for the first time.
  • 59% of the teachers explained what students needed to know.
  • 34% were responsible for reading the guidelines and asking questions about the program. 
  • Most had a technology or science teacher involved.
    23% began their work in October and 45% began in November.
  • 75% determined their own ISTF teams.
  • 20% said they selected teams based on topic choice.
  • Only 3% said their teachers grouped the teams.

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High school students (who responded) did the following in preparation for the ISTF:

  • 82% decided on a problem and project focus.
  • 71% read the Content Guidelines for their grade level and discussed the ISTF Program with their teacher.
  • 70% decided on teams.
  • 71% discussed what each member of the team would do.
  • 61% searched for a technical advisor.

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Working on the ISTF Project

These are teaming problems high school respondents encountered:

  • 58% said finding time to work together was difficult.
  • 44% identified locating useful information on the Internet as a problem.
  • 34% said seeing that each person did his/her work was difficult.
  • 33% identified scheduling meetings as a hindrance.
  • 33% said communicating with their technical advisor.
  • 31% said communicating between student team members.

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Many student teams experience difficulties when attempting to decide on a topic. About twenty-one 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:

  • 58% would discuss amongst group members and then decide.
  • 35% would investigate/research first and then decide.
  • 28% would not change anything.
  • 33% would decide based on the amount of information available.
  • 32% would decide based on their experience with/knowledge of the topic.

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About 43% of the respondents had problems managing their time while working on their ISTF Project because:

  • 31% had too many other school obligations.
  • 27% had difficulty meeting with everyone.
  • 20% did not meet often enough.
  • 10% 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:

  • 45% printed the information and highlighted the main points.
  • 43% researched then paraphrased/summarized information from websites.
  • 39% took notes.
  • 31% printed off pages found and typed information directly into their web development software program.
  • 31% stored information on floppy or zip disk.
  • 27% copied and pasted information to a word processing document and then transferred it to a web development software program.

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About 30% called Internet research easy, while 65% called it somewhat difficult. Approximately 90% of the respondents shared their research information with other members of the team in these ways:

  • 58% talked about what each person had learned every time they met.
  • 57% used e-mail.
  • 16% put the URL addresses in a List of Favorites so everyone could see.

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A substantial 42% of the respondents did not have technical advisors. Those with technical advisors said they joined the teams throughout the competition period:

  • 17% joined in January.
  • 15% joined in December.
  • 10% joined in November.

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About 407% of the respondents shared research information as they found it with their technical advisors. Approximately 6% of the respondents called their technical advisors very helpful, while 19% said their technical advisors were helpful, and 58% called their technical advisors somewhat helpful. Respondents that had technical advisors explained how they helped:

  • 25% said their technical advisors explained how the teams' project would/would not work.
  • 24% said their technical advisors helped students gain a better understanding of the technology related to the projects.
  • 20% said their technical advisors encouraged them to ask questions.
  • 17% said their technical advisors provided information and/or useful website URL's.
  • 13% said their technical advisors asked the team important questions that helped the students to focus.
  • 18% said their technical advisors reviewed/proofread the final project websites.
    • 34% shared the URL to the final project website with their technical advisor. 
    • 22% did not share this information with their technical advisors.

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Completing the ISTF Project

About 95% of the high school respondents received a grade for their work. But grading pressure did not adversely affect student contentment, as 86% were mostly or completely satisfied with their final product.

Approximately 17% said they would participate in the ISTF again, 43% said maybe they would and 40% said no. High school respondents who expressed willingness to compete again knew what they would do differently:

  • 42% said start earlier.
  • 37% said choose a different topic.
  • 31% said do more preliminary research on possible projects.
  • 24% said work harder to find a focus for their project.
  • 17% said divide up the tasks so everyone had a chance to work on all parts of the ISTF.
  • 16% said learn how to work together as a team.

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About 67% deemed the ISTF an interesting activity, and about 32% deemed it a great learning experience. High school respondents explained the ISTF's impact on them:

  • 53% said it taught them time management skills.
  • 45% said it helped them learn how to work as part of a team.
  • 43% said it made them aware of the difficulty in finding useful Internet information.
  • 37% said it showed them that there are interesting careers in science and technology.
  • 31% said it made them aware of the importance of a specific technical field.

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