WORKING WITH A MENTOR
Working with a mentor can offer a way for you to get input regarding your research. Mentors are scientists and science experts who can provide guidance, input, and suggestions to student teams who have their own Team Workspace. They are very busy with their regular full time jobs but are excited to work with student teams. Mentors like to hear back from you once they have posted a message. Don't be afraid to ask them questions about a discussion post or to get a conversation going!
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Four mentors from the NASA Johnson Space Center

Student teams should rely primarily on input from their teachers to help guide them through their research investigation. The teacher is an extremely valuable resource who should provide the first line of guidance to students teams.

The following guidelines are provided to help you know what to expect, or what not to expect from your mentor:

A MENTOR WILL...

  • Work with student teams to provide guidance, input, and suggestions.
  • Follow the progress of student research but not direct it.
  • Encourage you to further your research with helpful advice.
  • Help provide insight into aspects of the process of science that may be important to the research you are conducting.
  • Possibly ask you questions as you progress with your research.
  • Want you to respond to their messages. Mentors want to have a 2-way conversation with your team.

A MENTOR WILL NOT...

  • Do the research for the team. It is your responsibility to research and do the necessary work that is part of your investigation.
  • Post to your wiki everyday.
  • Correct facts you may state as part of your research. It is the student team responsibility to use reliable sources and do the background research necessary to gain in understanding in what they are studying.

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT MENTORS

  • Mentors enjoy knowing that you have read the information you have posted. Ask them questions about their message if you have any, or at least acknowledge you have read what they have posted. Don't be afraid to start or continue a conversation!
  • Mentors often travel as part of their work. Sometimes they attend conferences, do field work, or travel to meetings as part of their jobs. They are very busy people!
  • Mentors are people who sometimes take vacations or get sick. If you don't hear back from them right away, don't worry!
  • There is a chance that you may have a change of mentor or "substitute mentor" during your participation. This will occur if your mentor becomes unavailable for an extended period of time.
  • Mentors are not meant to replace the role of the teacher. The teacher should be the first resource used to ensure student research is moving forward in an appropriate direction.
  • Mentors are professionals who have volunteered to work with your student team.
  • Mentors are dedicated individuals who have an interest in allowing students to experience real science. Their professional careers were likely influenced by what they did in school.
  • Mentors are not experts on everything! They understand, however, how the process of science works.
  • Mentors believe in the value of education and are interested in being a part of what you are doing in school.
  • Mentors are interested in what you can do as emerging student scientists.
  • Mentors want to watch your team critically think to solve and answer your own question. They are interested in the process you, as student scientists, go through to arrive at your conclusions.
  • Mentors understand that science is less about whether the answer to your question is right or wrong and more about the process and evidence you put together to draw your conclusions.