Mentors leverage their expertise and professional experience to guide students through student-led research. Qualified research projects include classroom-based independent research, R&D STEM Challenges and science fair projects at RDLE partner schools.
STEM professionals from Illinois industry and research institutions serve as mentors. Mentors currently work or have worked as a scientist, technologist, engineer, lab technician, designer or researcher. Post-secondary and graduate students who are experienced in researcher may also mentor high school students.
Mentor Supervisors partner with RDLE to identify and recruit STEM professionals within their organizations. Mentors commit to engaging with students up to one hour per week for the duration of their research. Mentors then create a profile on the MME with respective areas of expertise and availability. Mentors are successfully background checked before being matched to a student. Students develop research questions with the help of a teacher. Once a teacher approves a research question, a student may search for mentors whose areas of expertise apply to the student’s research question. The MME provides a student with a list of potential mentors.
With teacher approval, a student can send a formal request directly to an available mentor to participate in the project. Mentors may accept, decline, or ask for more information in response to a request. Once both the student and mentor agree on the match - and the teacher approves - the mentoring begins. At any point a potential mentor becomes unavailable to be matched, they may make their profile inactive and will not receive any requests until re-activated.
By connecting mentors and students electronically, the RDLE is able to offer high-quality mentoring experiences and overcome geographic barriers. The platform prioritizes student safety by completing background checks for mentors and placing teachers at the center of the student-mentor relationship.
Find out more about the Mentor Matching Engine (MME).