You could not have asked for a better outcome.
When Youth Engagement committee SCWISTie, Dr. Anju Bajaj, Associate Vice-Principal at Holy Cross School, Research Scientist and Prime Minister Teaching Excellence Awardee, approached SCWIST to support and collaborate with the Bison Regional Science Fair, which typically draws hundreds of students across Manitoba, we couldn’t say no. Jumping at the opportunity to use our current programs to support budding scientists of various backgrounds – girls, boys, non-binary, Indigenous, visible minorities, 2SLGBTQIA, those with disabilities – we customized our flagship eMentoring program to better serve the needs of the student participants.
This round of eMentoring was unlike our usual rounds: we had a younger batch of students, grades 7-9, who were also participating in their local school science fair, hoping to earn a spot at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. Given the discussions between students and mentors were expected to have, which would be specific to the student’s science project idea, we decided to use a different medium was used for mentor-mentee engagement – the teams met on Zoom instead of our usual mode of email communication. Each week, students met with mentors for 30 minutes to discuss the feasibility, progress, and presentation of their projects. The result?
- 1 mentee advanced to earn a spot at the Canada-Wide Science Fair where she recently won the Actuarial Foundation of Canada Junior Award, received an invitation from CSF Journal to publish her work, and kudos from the Canadian Space Agency
- 1 mentee won a gold medal at the Bison Regional Science Fair and had his work noticed by Sanofi Biogenius Canada
- 1 mentee won her bronze award at the Bison Regional Science Fair
Overall, 75 percent of students thought the weekly conversations were helpful in making the project better, 83 percent felt better prepared to develop their project because of the guidance provided by their mentor and 91 percent said they are more likely to pursue a career in STEM than they were before participating in the Bison Science Fair eMentoring program.
We are so grateful for the time and efforts put in by our volunteer mentors to make this a possibility. We would also like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Anju Bajaj. She was a huge support to the students throughout the eMentoring round. When the round ended, she single-handedly continued to nurture the relationship between Stephanie and her mentor as Stephanie advanced to the national level. The tremendous success of this round would not have been possible without Anju and her awe-inspiring drive to support students achieve their maximum potential.
Want to help empower the next generation of science leaders? Sign up to be a mentor today!