CHAPTER 1: RATIONALE (CONT.)

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to examine whether publishing a student's science fair project on the Internet had any consequence on the student's attitude toward his/her project--specifically, if it had a motivational effect. In addition, this project accomplished four goals: first, to describe the projects from the students' point of view; second, to show that the motivational benefits of publishing student research can be applied to the sciences; third, to serve as a guide to other educators who are interested in publishing their students' science fair projects on the World Wide Web; and finally, to promote an effort to organize and have a national competition of virtual science fair projects. A review of the literature revealed that there was a lack of examples concerning how students feel about doing project oriented science. The perspective of the students as well as the motivational aspects of publishing students' science fair projects on the World Wide Web was accomplished through a nomothetic case study of two sections of high school physics classes as they researched their science fair projects and published them on the World Wide Web. Triangulation of student journals, participant-observation, interviews and questionnaires produced several student profiles in which the student's feelings and attitudes toward the project and the motivational effect were portrayed with a high degree of validity--students had the opportunity to read and comment on the student profiles generated by the triangulation (Cohen & Manion, 1994, p. 241). Final comments made by the students have been included in this study. An equipment and software list and a step-by-step procedure as well as the major problems encountered and examples of student work have been included in the appendix to serve as a guide to educators who wish to teach students how to publish their own science fair projects on the World Wide Web. Finally, this study has been published on the World Wide Web to serve as a resource to teachers who visit the Brentwood School Web site or the Innovations Web site of the Science Academy of South Texas. Innovations is a virtual science fair which was started in 1996 and to which the students submitted their projects for the purpose of competition. It is the only “open” science fair competition that is solely devoted to projects that are published by students on the World Wide Web.

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