The mentors program pairs STEM professionals and educators in the St. Vrain Valley School District to launch an innovative mentoring model for middle school students in STEM that promotes the concept of increased STEMIdentity. Importantly, this innovative program will by connecting student grades 6 to 8, to working professionals promote a sense of agency, to inspire, and to support diversity in STEM-related identity development.
STEM professionals will have the opportunity to impact students and educators by participating in a customized mentoring program that positions professionals to become personally relevant mentors to St. Vrain Valley School District educators and students as they conduct problem-based STEM learning projects. The project has the following specific sub-goals:
Through these goals, the mentorship program intends to directly confront STEM retention issues that emerge specifically in the middle school years, where we see a precipitous drop-off in students interested in pursuing STEM-related fields of study (especially girls and minorities). Mentoring relationships and experiential learning practices in the context of student-driven, problem-based learning projects are here intended to help attract and retain increased STEM participation. The STEM mentors project’s potential benefits extend not only to middle school students, but also to the mentors and educators who are positioned as problem-solving role models.
Each STEM professional will serve as a mentor to one or two middle school educators and their students in the St. Vrain Valley School District. Employees will help to guide students as they create their own STEM projects. Given the number of education professionals and students involved and that students will be working in project teams of varying size, we expect that 10 to 20 mentors in various STEM disciplines will be needed. We will use MySTEMlink.com service and existing network to help identify and strategically match mentors with educators (and therefore their students) according to the needs of the project and the capabilities of the mentors as revealed in the STEMlink profile process.
We will conduct workshops to prepare each stakeholder (STEM professionals, and St. Vrain educators) for their roles. These workshops will include training in identity-based experiential learning theory, STEM identity development, and guidance for the specific collaborative roles and responsibilities of each partner (noting that it is expected most mentoring interactions will be online via video conference and email, and will include mentors interacting with both educators and students). Further, we will provide resources for partners to use in the context of problem-based learning projects, mentoring activities, organizing their calendars, and establishing their communication plans. This includes the Experiential Learning Variables and Indicators Scale tool (ELVIS).
STEM Mentors training includes a participant workshop to prepare each stakeholder for their roles. These workshops will include training
in unconscious bias, experiential learning theory, and STEM identity development as well as guidance for the specific roles and responsibilities of each participant in collaboration with their partners.
Fall semester 2016: September through December
Spring semester 2017: January through May