Aboriginal Mentorship Program

Lakehead University’s New Aboriginal Mentorship Program

Lakehead University, Aboriginal Initiatives and the Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies are pleased to announce the launch of the new Aboriginal Mentorship Program (AMP).  AMP matches experienced university students (at the undergrad, graduate and post-graduate levels) with Aboriginal high school students from across the Thunder Bay region to create a positive connection that both inspires and assists the high school student in learning about science.

Founded in 2009 by the University of Ottawa, AMP was created in response to visits by graduate students in the Let’s Talk Science Outreach Program to rural and remote communities in northern Ontario. The volunteers were troubled by the lack of resources available to the students and schools they were visiting. It was from this realization that the Aboriginal Mentorship Program was created. The Programs’ purpose is to increase students’ interest in science and school in general, fulfill their educational needs in the form of fun and interactive science experiments and motivational challenges as well as to provide online educational support.  The program culminates in a university experience for the high school students including a science fair; campus tours and visits to working science labs.

Aboriginal Mentorship Program Mission Statement

A major hurdle for many Aboriginal students in obtaining their high school diploma is successful completion of mandatory science course requirements.  The goal of AMP is not to make every student a scientist, but to increase the high school students’ interest in science and school by connecting them with young science graduate students from Lakehead University.  By creating a one-on-one connection with a real working scientist, the AMP program strives to provide each participant with the encouragement and resources needed to succeed in an academic environment.

Outline of the AMP Program

The AMP program will run from December through to April during the academic year 2013/2014. There are six separate events planned within the AMP program during this time period. The Program kicks off during the month of December with an initial visit by AMP mentors to participating high schools for introductions and an orientation session. Mentors and mentorees will have an opportunity to meet one another and learn more about the AMP program.

The second and third events will take place in January and February.  The first of these visits includes a full day of activities involving three challenges, lunch, and an introduction to the Aboriginal Science Fair. Mentorees will compete in fun science-based solo and group challenges as well as a simple quiz challenge.  Examples of past challenges used at the University of Ottawa have included such tasks as an egg drop competition (where students have had to develop a mechanism for cushioning the fall of an egg using only the materials provided for them), as well as a boat building competition (where students have had to build a boat capable of keeping a Barbie doll dry as it is propelled through a large bin of water by a hair dryer).  A second visit in February allows time for both mentors and mentorees to further discuss their science fair projects and then reflect upon the personal assistance students require.

In early March the mentorees will have the chance to travel to Lakehead University to meet with their mentors. The students may spend a few hours to tour the labs/work areas of their mentors and work on their science fair projects.  Mentors can use this opportunity to perform any testing necessary for the mentoree’s project and/or give them the results needed to move forward with their science fair projects.  A final school visit will take place in late March or early April. This meeting will allow for a final get together between mentors and AMP students to discuss and complete science fair projects.

The Science Fair and University Daze will wrap up the AMP academic year in April. Mentorees will participate and present their projects in an Aboriginal Science Fair. As part of University Daze they will also have the opportunity to spend some time experiencing university life with a campus tour and check out some of Lakehead’s many science laboratories.

Note:  Mentor volunteers will need to submit a criminal background check from the Thunder Bay Police Service.  The cost of a background search for a volunteer is $45.20. Costs for the criminal background check will be reimbursed by AMP.

Mentor Volunteer Incentives and Benefits

Volunteer mentors are eligible to be recognized for their contributions to the AMP program in two different ways. They may have their contributions recognized on their Co-Curriculum Record in the areas of Activity Participation and Professional Development. They may also receive a letter of recognition signed by the Dean of Science and Environmental Studies and the Vice-Provost of Aboriginal Initiatives.

Contact Information

Lakehead’s Aboriginal Mentorship Program is actively looking to recruit volunteer mentors. If you are a graduate student, PhD student or a third or fourth year undergraduate student with a passion for science and/or education and have a little time to spare for a good cause please contact Lisa Harris, AMP Coordinator, at amp@lakeheadu.ca  or by calling 807-343-8528.