Technical Advisors

Teachers build the cornerstone of the Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF) Program. They take responsibility for leading elementary, middle and high school students through the competition cycle, while attending to all their other academic requirements. This section is quite possibly most important, as it comes directly from the individuals who make the ISTF Program possible. All new teachers, educators and administrators who read this section must understand that UCF-CECS has, for the past seven years, considered and acted on the input of participating teachers.

Approximately eighteen teachers who participated in the 2003-2004 ISTF responded to the Final Process Evaluation questions concerning the preparation for, work on, and completion of their students' projects. Below is a bulleted summary of the information these teachers provided. The primary purpose of this report is to 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 teachers thought "In Their Own Words."

Preparing for the ISTF Project

Here are some interesting facts about how teachers (who responded) got started:

  • One-third had enrolled student teams in prior years.
  • Over half said the teacher training guide and web site were informative, but 33% said these resources were not.
  • Only 7% of ninth grade teachers had students use the high school guidelines.
  • Most teachers and their student teams reviewed the ISTF websiteís content guidelines, Hall of Fame (past-year winning teams), and National Critical Technologies (NCTís).
  • 44% indicated it took more than three class sessions to decide on different student team project topics.
  • Almost half had their students select a community or national problem and then correlate it to the NCTís, while the other half chose NCTís and then discussed possible topics.
  • 73% indicated their student teams encountered a problem narrowing their project focus.

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Working on the ISTF Project

Teachers (who responded) discussed the somewhat daunting task of locating technical advisors and explained the roles their team's technical advisors assumed:

  • 46.7% of the teachers' student teams located technical advisors, while 40% received some form of technical advice but had no technical advisor.
    • 53% of the teachers helped their student teams locate a technical advisor.
    • 33% of the students who found a technical advisor did so via Internet research.
    • 26% of the students located a technical advisor who was a parent or friend in the community.
  • 73% of the teachers said technical advisor-student interaction was very valuable, because:
    • 80% of the technical advisors provided students with technical information and explained why their research was faulty.
    • 60% of the technical advisors provided a critique of their teams' final project websites, helped students locate useful content from web sites and helped students narrow their project focus.

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Teachers (who responded) assessed the communication between members of their team(s):

  • 13.3% reported that the technical advisor did initiate e-mail communication with the team but the team did not respond.
  • 53.3% said the technical advisor communicated with both the students and the teacher, while:
    • 66.7% said the technical advisor communicated only directly with the student team members.
    • 6.7% reported the technical advisor communicated with the team only through the teacher.
  • 20% said the team did not communicate with the technical advisor often enough, still:
    • 53.3% reported that the technical advisor answered all the team e-mail related to the team's project.
    • 33% said their students communicated often with their technical advisors, and 40% communicated occasionally.
    • 60% said their student teams exchanged e-mails on a regular basis and 20% met with their technical advisor before the October start date.
  • 13.3% felt that communication was too limited by using only e-mail, however:
    • 60% felt the questions the students asked became more focused as the ISTF progressed.
    • 53.3% felt the student teams learned valuable lessons about communicating through e-mail during the ISTF.

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Completing the ISTF Project

Teachers (who responded) expressed willingness to participate again:

  • 73% indicated they would enroll teams in the 2004-2005 ISTF competition.
  • 26% said they will enter more teams, while 33% said they would enroll the same number of teams.
  • 100% of the teachers said they would encourage other teachers to participate in the ISTF!

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