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Good science and good science mentoring: Making the connection online Claire Hemingway Education Director, Botanical Society of America Outcomes for you Explore/discuss scenarios and mentoring strategies Introduction to mentoring in the BSA-led science inquiry and mentorship program

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good science and good science mentoring making the connection online
Good science and good science mentoring: Making the connection online

Claire HemingwayEducation Director, Botanical Society of America

outcomes for you
Outcomes for you
  • Explore/discuss scenarios and mentoring strategies
  • Introduction to mentoring in the BSA-led science inquiry and mentorship program
  • Invitation to join

What “burning questions” did you bring?

poll question
Poll Question

My interest in plant science was influenced by interactions with a key individual (mentor) ?



guiding questions
Guiding Questions
  • How did you learn to do good science?
  • How can we as scientists help students learn to do good science?
brainstorm activity i
Brainstorm Activity I

What are some of the ways you learn best now as a scientist?

brainstorm activity ii
Brainstorm Activity II

What are some of the ways you have been mentored?

Effective ways

Ineffective ways

a perspective on mentoring
A perspective on mentoring

“Effective mentoring can be learned, but not taught. Good mentors discover their own objectives, methods, and styles by mentoring. And mentoring. And mentoring some more. Most faculty learn to mentor by experimenting and analyzing success and failure, and many say the process of developing a effective methods of mentoring takes years.”

Handelsman, J. et al. 2005 Entering Mentoring

inquiry and mentorship program
Inquiry and Mentorship Program
  • Classrooms (middle school through college) nationwide are linked via the web to explore a common topic
  • Educators guide classroom component
  • Students work in teams during ~2-week-long experiments; post journal and results online
  • Scientists and students engage in scientific dialogue online
what is inquiry based learning

What is inquiry-based learning?

National Research Council 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington DC., National Academy Press

Scientists helping students make connections

How do experts differ from novices? Experts…

  • Notice features and meaningful patterns
  • Have acquired a great deal of content knowledge that is organized in ways that reflect deep understanding
  • Are able to flexibly retrieve important aspects of their knowledge with little attentional effort
  • Have knowledge that cannot be reduced to sets of isolated facts

From NRC. (2000) How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School

what mentoring in this program is not
What mentoring in this program is NOT

Playing the role of the

  • Classroom teacher
  • Ask the expert
what scientist mentors do
What scientist mentors do

Make science relevant and exciting!

Effective mentors are motivated by the desire to help students understand, appreciate, and enjoy the subject matter

talking with teams scientists
Talking with teams, scientists…
  • encourage and confirm.
  • respond to inquiry teams’ questions.
  • provide advice about new experiments.
  • suggest that students get more information.
  • encourage scientific thinking.
  • provide information about their science.
  • embed factual information.
  • embed information about the ways scientists do their work.
  • reveal information about the history and details of scientific discovery.
  • (more info in the 2:45 pm Educator-Scientist session)
mentoring scenarios strategies

Mentoring Scenarios & Strategies

Consider how you would respond to students


Seed germination and seedling growth inquiry

scenario i
Scenario I:

What feedback would you give this high school research team on their research question and prediction?

How would this response differ formiddle school / high school / college?

popular but problematic questions and experimental set ups
Popular but problematic questions and experimental set ups

If students see a difference in germination and growth, how will they identify which of the ingredients caused the change?

scenario ii
Scenario II:

How might you encourage the students to reveal what they are observing, doing, and thinking? To elaborate why they think nitrogen, phosphate, and potash are important to germination?

probing questions
Probing questions
  • What do you see? What else do you see?
  • What do you want to find out?
  • Is this the most important question, or is there an underlying question that is the real issue?
  • You seem to be inferring … Why do think the inference holds up?
  • What other information do you need?
  • What effect would xxx have on your results?

Adapted from Richard Paul 1993. Critical thinking: How to prepare students for a rapidly changing world.

common misconceptions 1 what do students know about plants
Common misconceptions 1. What do students “know” about plants?
  • Food for a plant is either fertilizer or other plants
  • Plants get food from soil and water
  • Plants (like people) get food from many sources
  • Food is anything that helps an organism live or is taken into the body
  • Sunlight is helpful to plant growth, but not critical
  • Oxygen and carbon dioxide help plants breathe
  • Trees and grass are not plants

From Barman et al. (2006) American Biology Teacher 68(2): 73

ii what do educated adults know about plants
II. What do educated adults “know” about plants?

“Many mosses and fungi are also present in Down House and the surrounding area. As a replica of Darwin’s survey, scientists deliberately left them out.

‘We didn’t include for instance mosses,’ said Gill Stevens. ‘We actually followed Darwin’s interests and it is just flowers, plants and grasses.’”

From “Darwin’s steps map flower changes” BBC online News

2006/07/21 09:47:57 GMT

brainstorm activity iii
Brainstorm Activity III

Do you have a written statement on your teaching philosophy?

Your mentoring philosophy?

Jot down 3 key points you might include.

How has your perception of mentoring changed with experience, with reflection?

challenges and tips for online mentoring
Challenges and tips for online mentoring
  • Asynchronous online format
    • Send messages regularly, even if they do not respond
    • Respond promptly to mentee’s messages
    • Be yourself
  • Getting students to reveal their thinking clearly/respond
    • -Ask only 1-2 questions at a time
    • -Be persistent, but gentle
challenges and tips continued
Challenges and tips continued
  • Working with young learners
    • -Avoid jargon
    • -Have realistic expectations for middle school, high school, and college students
    • -Communicate with teachers about students background knowledge and skill level
concerns and issues
Concerns and Issues

Anything that we haven’t talked about that you would like to?

Any “burning questions” you brought with you that we haven’t addressed?


Using Sip3 Effectively to Mentor K-16 Students Online --click on scientists

Handelsman, J. et al. (2005) Entering

Merkel, C.A. and S. M. Baker (2002) How to Mentor Undergraduate Researchers.

National Academy of Sciences (1997) Advisor, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering

2 ways to volunteer
2 ways to volunteer
  • Scientist Mentor
    • mentor 2-3 teams per session
  • Master Plant Science Mentor Team
    • Mentor ~7 teams each in fall and spring session (~2 hrs per week)
    • Receive free BSA membership for the year, 50% off meeting registration, training in online mentoring

Get your


T-shirt Now!

Inquiry sessions last 2-4 weeks

Master Plant Science Mentor Team

We encourage graduate students, post-docs, and professors emeriti to join.

  • To apply, please describe in a personal statement (~2 paragraphs):
    • Your interest/reason for wanting to participate in the mentorship team
    • Your science mentorship and outreach experience

Direct your applications or questions to:

Claire Hemingway, Education Director

Botanical Society of America

[email protected]


Questions | Comments | Want to know more?

Please contact:

Claire Hemingway, Education Director

[email protected]


And visit