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Making and Mentors: What It Takes to Make Them Better Together

Abstract

"Making and mentoring are both at a crossroads. Both are scaling at a record pace, aspiring to reach considerably more youth and mentors than ever before. Each has potential for good; together, they can create a revolution in STEM learning.

Mentors can be especially helpful in bringing Making opportunities to groups underrepresented in STEM, including girls, youth of color, and students in underresourced communities. Even when these young people choose not to pursue STEM careers, putting Making and mentors together has significant benefits. We've seen girls persevere through challenges in their design-and-build projects, learn to collaborate, and engage in critical problem solving--all with the support of mentors. These are essential educational and career skills in all fields, not just STEM.

As afterschool STEM and Making programs recruit more mentors, they need to devote adequate resources to mentor and staff training. Being an effective mentor is complicated. So is supporting Making projects. Put together, they can be challenging to do well. Both staff and mentors need training to work together while supporting youth to drive their own Making projects. This investment will empower mentors to feel more confident and to effectively engage and inspire youth."

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