Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) students in the Authentic Exploratory Research (AER) program presented their final projects last week in a walk-through symposium. The AER independent research course, adapted and inspired by Palo Alto Unified School District, has given students the opportunity to explore their passions and future career pathways through their own driving questions and curiosities alongside adult mentors in their respective fields who have helped guide each mentee in their research and analysis.
Interested mentors will participate in a Mentor Orientation to review the AER Mentor Handbook and go over any questions. At a Welcome Breakfast in late September, mentors will be paired with a mentee according to the field of the student’s choosing. Once the student-mentor partnership has been established, it will be up to the student and the mentor to determine when and where they will meet. Mentors can expect a time commitment of 40 to 50 hours throughout the school year.
As an AER mentor, you will . . .
- mentor 1-3 students (depending on the project(s)
- sign the AER Mentor Agreement before corresponding with students
- serve as a content expert to support and facilitate students’ work
- supervise students’ work in lab, office, or other appropriate environment (as necessary)
- create an atmosphere that empowers and encourages students to ask questions
- guide students’ progress and ensure each project is on track
- monitor students’ work and provide appropriate and timely feedback
- check in with the AER Coordinator (as necessary)
- spend approximately 40-50 total hours mentoring over the course of the school year (late August - early June) depending on the number of students
Guidelines for Interacting with Students
The nature and frequency of your interaction with students will depend on the scope of the project and the needs of the student. As mentioned, it is up to you and the student to determine the method of communication and location of interactions. The following guidelines are offered as suggestions.
- Check in with your student once per week via email (or other form of communication, if requested by the student and authorized by the parent).
- Communicate with the student as often as necessary.
- Introduce student to relevant materials for their chosen field of study (i.e., previously published research).
- Attend the Celebratory Showcase in May (if possible).
- Stress the importance of asking questions. Be careful not to make students feel inferior while they learn to formulate stronger and more focused questions.
- Cite examples of the types of methods and techniques that can be used to address research questions.