The Technology Fair Project: Participation in a Technology Fair Stimulates Student Interest in Science and Technology While Simultaneously Promoting the Development of Technological Problem Solving and Decision Making as Important Life Skills

Article excerpt

Introduction

The technology fair is a new idea derived from science fair projects that have been taking place for many years in the Learning in Science Group at the University of Cyprus. Technology-fair initiatives encourage students to explore their technical environment in a systematic manner. The underlying principle is that participation in a technology fair stimulates student interest in science and technology while simultaneously promoting the development of technological problem solving and decision making as important life skills.

The project took place in the context of a compulsory university course in design and technology and a collaboration framework that this course has set up with local schools. Eighty two (82) primary school students from a local school, with the assistance of 82 university students studying to become teachers, were responsible for identifying a human need, formulating a technological problem, collecting information, and developing an appropriate solution. Each university student was responsible for collaborating with one primary school student on a single technological project.

In this context, technology fair projects provide an opportunity for interaction between undergraduate student teachers and elementary school students so that they can work as a team with shared but different goals: The child aims to solve a problem and present both the problem and the solution during the technology fair; the student-teacher aims to use the interaction as a process for helping the child develop problem-solving and decision-making skills through a systematic approach.

Technology Fair Requirements

During the fair, each pupil, with his preservice teacher, displayed a poster describing the design process (see Figure 1 for an example).

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Pupils and preservice teachers also presented the artifact they constructed as a solution to the technological problem (Figure 2).

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Additionally, the children engage the public in a specific aspect of their work through a specially designed interactive exhibit (see the photograph in Figure 3).

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Technology Fair Projects

The children and preservice teachers worked in a one-to-one collaboration for the solution of their chosen technological problem. Some of the solutions presented during the technology fair are decribed below.

Solar Car

The design brief required children to design and make a solar car. The car should be powered with a small photovoltaic cell. The artifact should be constructed with lightweight and cheap materials. The solution given by one child is shown in Figure 4.

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Model of Bridge

The design brief required children to design and make a simple model of a bridge. The model should be able to allow small boats to pass below its surface. The solution given by one child is shown in Figure 5.

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Catapult

The design brief required children to design and make a simple catapult. The catapult should be able to throw light materials to a minimum distance of two meters. The solution given by one child is shown in Figure 6.

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Electronic Quiz Game

The design brief required children to design and make an electronic quiz game. The game should be constructed using cheap materials and simple electric circuitry. The game should be interactive and have an educational purpose. …