Each year when we review the "Final Process Evaluations" completed by students, teachers and technical advisors, it is apparent that the foundation for a successful ISTF Project is great teamwork. Team members report the importance of communicating often, sharing ideas without making judgments, delegating workloads and in the end, learning the value of collaboration as they submit their final projects.
For students, learning to work together was an adventure sometimes exhilarating and sometimes exasperating. Most students who participated in the ISTF had other commitments including extracurricular activities and /or heavy course loads. It is amazing how well all the students did, considering that for most, this was their first year of participating in the ISTF.
Teachers have a choice of integrating the ISTF into their curricula or as an after school program. At the same time, educational coordinators, parents and/or volunteers are also invited to participate who are with home school, scout programs and other youth educational organizations. Some teachers have been with the ISTF for eight or more years and others have had a many as 20 to 30 student teams participate. With the support of dedicated teachers and educational coordinators, many of the student teams felt that they learned valuable lessons about how to manage their time wisely, how to communicate effectively with other team members and how to work toward the common goal of creating an informative website that proposed an innovative solution to a real world problem.
Over half of the student teams had dedicated technical advisors and communicated with them via e-mail on a regular basis. Connecting student teams with technical professionals and improving their frequency of communication continues to be priority of the ISTF Program. We are most grateful to the professional men and women took on the responsibility of helping student teams to find key information about the National Critical Technologies (NCTs) they selected and how their proposed improvements or new uses would actually work. As professionals, they are asked to help keep student teams focused on their projects while providing valuable insights based on their fields of expertise. In realizing technical advisors also had major time commitments, it was interesting to learn that many felt they could and would have provided more help if the teams had asked for it.
The ISTF projects you will find on this website under Winners represent a small fraction of the hours of study and work done by student teams. Of the teams that complete the competition, approximately one-third usually advance to the final round of judging and between 5% to 10% receive awards. While the winning websites represent the very best of the program, we are proud of ALL the student teams that participated.