Our History with Scientists as Mentors

Project Exploration has a history of bringing scientists and students together to investigate real science and build meaningful relationships. This model has a positive impact for everyone involved, including practicing scientists, whom we know are often looking for ways to share their expertise and passion for the sciences with young people. In the early years Project Exploration may have focused on scientists but today we have expanded our reach to draw in adults and mentors from various STEM disciplines. Project Exploration has found that one of the most effective ways to encourage students to consider STEM related fields is to introduce them to diverse role models, particularly role models with whom they are able to relate, by gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and location. We value that providing a diverse representation of role models begins to challenge stereotypes around careers where some groups may traditionally be underrepresented.

STEM Mentors Matter

Today, our STEM Professionals are individuals, corporate teams, engineerings, neuroscientists, environmentalists, etc who seek opportunities to connect and work alongside students. STEM Professionals also known as STEM Mentors give our students the opportunity to make a real-world connection with someone in the STEM field. Our students are exposed to career options they probably didn’t know existed. STEM Professional play an important role in helping expanding students’ minds on possibilities. Students are able to imagine themselves in such careers, if they are interested, because meeting a STEM Professional first hand. Our students are able to ask questions and gain an understanding of a life journey different from their own.

According to a Corporation for National and Community article, Becoming a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Mentor, “Mentorship is a key strategy for exciting, supporting, and keeping students, young scientists, and engineers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This is particularly true for individuals who haven’t historically participated in these areas– such as young women and underrepresented minorities.

Levels of STEM Mentorship

Project Exploration also offers another unique twist to STEM Mentorship, our team of STEM Facilitators, often undergraduate, graduate or recents grads of STEM disciplines, facilitate our programs as a stepping stone for their future goals or an opportunity to determine if education is a fit. While the relationship between youth and STEM Mentors remains a critical principle in the Project Exploration program design, the inclusion of college students in the circle of mentorship enriches the mentorship experience for youth. By virtue of being closer in age and having week-to-week continuity, the STEM Facilitators provide a bridge between young people and scientists and contribute to the “community of practice.” While our STEM Facilitators are delivering engaging activities with our students they are also connecting with a STEM Professionals who were once in their shoes. It’s an ongoing connection, that creates relationships, that are life changing.

Interested in becoming a STEM Mentor, contact Kiara Byrd at kbryd@projectexploration.org.

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