What is the Role of an Earth Explorers Mentor?
Earth Explorers Mentors come from either a science or videography background but despite their diverse specialties, both play the same basic roles:
- Mentors make sure students are understanding the science concepts they are learning as well as helping the team stay focused and on track in regards to the production of their film.
- Mentors allow for more individualized attention to the students. With one Mentor per team, the teacher/facilitator to student ratio goes from 1:32 to 1:4 on days that the mentor is present which greatly improves their focus and understanding.
- Mentors serve as role models for their teams. Many students in the Earth Explorers program have never met a scientist or know anyone who has completed college. Mentors share stories of their time in college and any challenges that they have had to overcome. Mentors and student teams often develop a strong rapport.
What do Mentors get out of the Earth Explorers experience?
- All Mentors will get practice explaining complex scientific terms to an audience, our middle school students, who have a very basic level of scientific understanding. Mentors spend part of their time with students helping them to make sure they understand the science topics they are learning. Many employers and research institutions value the ability to communicate and explain complex topics and research in simple and easy to understand terms. That skill of public scientific communication is one that Mentors will be able to cultivate and practice over the course of the semester.
- By the end of the semester, student teams create a short video that can be used to demonstrate education and outreach experience. Mentors can link to the finished product from their websites or resumes. Additionally, successful mentors are encouraged to request letters of recommendation at the end of their semester. Earth Explorers staff are happy to write letters and serve as references.
- Earth Explorers is a FUN way to help students in need. Our Scientists and Mentors frequently tell us they had a blast working with Earth Explorers students. Many Mentors even make an acting debut in their teams’ films.
What makes a good Earth Explorers Mentor?
- Must be good with kids: Earth Explorers students are in seventh and eighth grade. They are delightfully awkward, goofy, and energetic. They also have a middle school level of understanding of the world. Mentors serve as a bridge between the students and the professional scientific world. This means that Mentors will need to help advocate for the kids if they don’t understand and to share personal high school and collegiate experiences with their team which requires a strong and comfortable rapport with the students.
- Diversity: We love to work with Mentors from ethnically and/or economically diverse backgrounds when possible. We hope to introduce our students to scientists and engineers who challenge conventional stereotypes. Many of our students believe that all scientists are “old grumpy men” (their words, not ours). If students are engaged with Mentors and Scientists that look like they do, they’re more likely see a career in science, engineering, or filmmaking as a realistic and tangible possibility for themselves.
- Must be available on the dates of the program: We are restrained to specific dates each semester. It is critical that you are at each session. If an unexpected emergency comes up we request advanced notice and help in finding a substitute if at all possible.
Interested in becoming an Earth Explorers Mentor? Fill out the form through the link below, and we’ll be in touch!