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Out & About: STEM program pairs kids with Dartmouth mentors

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/6/2020 8:49:15 PM
Modified: 4/6/2020 8:49:09 PM

HANOVER — Parents looking for additional STEM learning opportunities for their children might look to the Dartmouth College student-led group Many Mentors.

The program, part of a larger nonprofit organization, was started by Dartmouth senior biochemistry major Hannah Margolis about a year ago to connect students in rural areas with students and professors studying science, technology, engineering and math. While they initially hoped to work with students in classrooms, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the organization to think of different ways they could still connect with students.

“Now because of everything that’s happened, we’re going to an individual household basis,” Margolis said.

The group offers two programs. Children can be paired with a graduate or undergraduate student mentor to write weekly letters in a pen pal program. The letters will be handwritten and then shared via email. Another virtual program sets up Skype talks between the mentor and mentee.

Parents can contact the organization through its website, dartmouthmanymentors.org, to learn more and sign up.

If a child is interested in a particular field — say biology or astronomy — Many Mentors will try to pair that student with a mentor who can discuss that topic. Then they can work to set up a schedule that works best for the pair.

“It’s really driven by what the mentees want to talk about,” said Margolis, who was inspired to start at branch of Many Mentors at Dartmouth based on her own experiences growing up in rural Nevada.

Margolis and others will personally match students with about 80 undergrad and graduate mentors. In the past year, Many Mentor has worked with students at Mascoma Regional and Lebanon high schools, and middle schoolers at Albert Bridge in Brownsville. So far, they’ve had interest from parents who have younger children as well.

“We haven’t done a whole lot with younger kids yet so I think it will be really fun,” Margolis said.

Students continue to learn at home from materials provided by their teachers, but by connecting with students studying STEM in higher education they can also see how far a love of chemistry could take them.

“In the short term we just want mentees to stay interested in STEM,” said Keighley Rockcliffe, a Dartmouth graduate student studying physics and astronomy who recruits students to be mentors.

The program is also beneficial for the mentors.

“It’s a great professional development experience to be able to communicate your science effectively,” Rockcliffe said. “It’s also inspiring to us to see children get interested in science.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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