Frequently Asked Questions about the TCS Competitions
Q. Who should participate?
A. High school sophomores, juniors and seniors who are interested in the interactions among science, technology, and society or who are interested in urban issues and sustainability are ideal candidates for this competition. Students who have a firm background in scientific or technical subjects can use these to their best advantage in preparing their project. Students who also have excellent communication and presentation skills should participate.
Q. May I work with a team?
A. For the New York in 2050 competition, you may work on a team with one or two classmates on a project and split the prize money if you win. For the science, technology, and the public paper, you must work independently.
Q. How do I get started?
A. As a student, the first thing you do is find a faculty mentor and two other team members (unless you want to attempt the competition as a solo); your second step is to register your team at the competition website at www.poly.edu/TCScompetition. This makes sure you have selected your mentor and it also insures that you’ll receive on-going announcements. Make sure you keep a lookout for the contest Webinars, which will provide you with helpful information about the competition and give you a chance to ask questions of the Department of Technology, Culture and Society’s representatives.
Q. Who should be my mentor?
A. Ideally, this is a current high school teacher from a class that is relevant to the competition. However, sometimes this person is not available, so you may choose any trusted adult – another teacher, guidance counselor or school recommended adult volunteer.
Q: What should be in the initial proposal?
A: The initial proposal should explain the proposed response to the contest problem. This requires some thinking and research so that the proposal has enough information to intrigue the judges. You can think of this step as an abstract of the finished project. The more developed your preliminary research, the better your summary will be. Your proposal should be between 500 to 700 words, which is about one and half typewritten pages.
Q. May we submit a final submission that is different from the proposal?
A. It sometimes happens that, with more thinking and additional research, your original idea needs to be revised. You should submit the best final project that you can, and if it’s necessary to change an aspect of the project, then do so. You do not need to get approval to change the project. Keep in mind, however, that the judges were interested in your proposed project, so you should try your best to stick to your original plan.
Q What should be in the final submission?
A: The final submission should have well-edited text that documents its sources using the Chicago Manual of Style author-date system. This means that there are parenthetical citations in the paragraphs when you are relying on outside sources and a list of works cited at the end of the paper.
Q. What is the format for the final submission?
A. Please use 1” margins on letter-sized paper. Double-space your text and use a readable font (such as 12 point Times). Indent and single-space long quotes. Include a list of works cited at the end of the report. The NYC 2050 projects may also include a file of images (video or still) or a poster to help explain the idea; if you make a model, please also submit photos of it.
Q. What do we have to do in this competition?
A. First, you must research a topic of your own choosing that fits in with the contest themes. You might want to start with simple search engine results, but you should also consider what textbooks, printed books, and even articles from scholarly journals are available. Second, you must summarize this information briefly in your initial proposal, keeping in mind that your goal is to interest the judges enough in your topic so that you will be selected for the next round. If you are selected as a finalist, you will then expand this research into a formal paper and present it in a public forum at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. The presentation room will be equipped with a projector.
Q. May I submit a project I worked on for school?
A. Yes. The project should be your own, original work, but it may be based on a research project you did for school. It would not be a bad idea to start with a paper that you have written for school, condense it into a proposal, and then expand it with new research if you are selected for the final round of the competition.
Q. Listed in the criteria section for the Science and Technology Studies competition, you state that we should avoid determinism. What is technological determinism?
A. When someone creates a technological device and expects everyone in all countries and cultures to use the device in the same way, we call that technological determinism. It has proven to be a fallacy. For example, the Internet was first created by the Pentagon to be used for military research, and yet we know that today it is used very differently by many more people. Another example is television broadcasting, which in Germany was first used to gather groups of people to learn about important state information (i.e., propaganda). In the United States, however, it was marketed and used for entertainment by individual households in a way that is familiar today. Determinism is known as a fallacy in the study of science and technology because users always have the ability to change or refuse the way they use them. It is true that technologies and scientific practices shape what we see and how we relate to each other, but when explaining how technology or science impacts society, it is best to avoid general statements that suggest they always will have the same effect everywhere. Instead, one should consider the uniqueness of the time and place where science and technology was (or will be) developed or deployed.
Q. Where can we get additional information?
A. Please consult the bibliography for the SUE contest and the STS contest.
Q. Where can a teacher/mentor direct any additional questions specific to the competition?
A. Questions and concerns about the competitions may be sent to Chris Leslie, the TCS faculty member who is administering these contests, by e-mail to: TCS@poly.edu.