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4-H Canada Blog
Finding and Working with a 4-H Canada Science Fair Mentor
One of the biggest advantages of participating in the 4-H Canada Science Fair is finding a mentor to bounce ideas off of, ask questions to and gain new perspectives from.
A 4-H Canada Science Fair mentor is someone who is knowledgeable about your science fair project topic, and is there to support you as you conduct your experiment, design your innovation or research your study. They can be someone you already know, like a parent, family friend or your 4-H club leader. Or, they can be someone you don’t know but you reach out to because of their knowledge and skills.
Wondering how to find a mentor? Follow these steps to get started:
Identify Your Project Topic
First, come up with a general idea for your project. Even if you haven’t completely decided what you want to do, having a topic you want to look at or a problem you want to solve, will help to point you in the right direction when finding a mentor.
Use Your Network and Start Researching
Reflect upon your network of friends, acquaintances, teachers, neighbours or even local business owners who might be familiar with the topic you’ve chosen. When you’ve gone through everyone you know, start doing some research and consider finding someone you may not know who can be helpful like a professor or scientist who specializes in this area.
Contact Your Potential Mentor and Introduce Yourself
Tell them about your project, and explain what you are hoping they can help you with. Whether it’s getting their opinion about your project idea, touring their lab or making use of specific equipment, be respectful of your potential mentor’s time and their resources. Be clear about how you’d like to stay in communication - whether it’s through email or a weekly meeting.
Confirm Your Mentor Partnership by Signing the 4-H Canada Mentor/Mentee Code of Conduct
Once they’ve agreed to become your mentor, ask your new mentor to sign the Mentor/Mentee Code of Conduct. The Mentor/Mentee Code of Conduct clearly outlines your role and commitment to each other. Once you’ve both signed this code of conduct send it to 4-H Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Started, Ask Questions, Be Respectful
Start working on your project! As you work on your ideas, you’ll likely have questions, hit some obstacles or wonder if you’re on the right track. This is where your mentor comes in – send emails, ask them questions, meet up with them if you can and use their knowledge and experience to help you make your project even better!
Examples of Members Making Use of Mentors
Since its inception in 2015, 4-H Canada Science Fair participants have enhanced their projects by reaching out to mentors and learning from experts in the field.
Amanda H., AB
Interested in the impact of being bilingual on your brain, Amanda reached out to a researcher who runs a research facility specializing in this exact topic. The researcher was willing to answer all of Amanda’s questions, share her research with Amanda, and offered encouragement!
Neleah L., PEI
After reading in the newspaper about a scientist researching extracting chemical compounds from lobster shells, Neleah decided to email him directly! This led to her reaching out to a professor at the University of PEI, who was able to give her access to lab equipment and ways to accurately measure her results.
Kyra T., BC
Passionate about horses, Kyra was interested in finding out which types of forage would be best for horses experiencing breathing issues. She worked with an agrologist at the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, and got to share her project results with the government.