About the Project

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This project started in 2014 in an effort to remove language, educational, and socioeconomic barriers that prevent students from participating in the science fair. The Science Fair Mentoring Project was born out of a desire to support these students. Now in its third year, the Science Fair Mentoring Project has assisted 118 different students participate in the local science fair (STEAM Expo) and 21 students to attend the Regional Science Fair in Mankato.

This project is led by a steering committee comprised of the following community members and educators:

  • Catherine Haslag, Project Founder and Coordinator
  • Richard Lemons, Carolyn Bogott, Fred Bogott, and Rick Herreid (Steering Committee Members)
  • Shelly Weinmann, Teacher, Neveln Elementary School
  • Gema Alvarado, Director of the Parenting Resource Center

To learn more about this project, view the TEDxHoracePark presentation entitled The Power of a Hypothesis.[1]

Below are links to articles about this program and its impact on the students it serves:

Project Goals

  • Increase enrollment in the science fair.
  • Provide students with the opportunity to develop positive relationships with adults in the community.
  • Expose students to science in a new way.
  • Provide a meaningful civic engagement opportunity to the Austin community and Riverland students.

Services Provided to Students

  • Project supplies. All of the supplies a student needs to complete their project will be provided to them at no cost to the student.
  • Guidance in completing project. Students are paired with mentors who guide them through the process of completing their experiment. Students work with the same mentor as much as possible to help facilitate relationship development between mentor and the student.
  • Engage with science in a new and exciting way. Science is best learned hands-on. This project allows students to experience science by actively engaging in it in a way they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
  • Improve self-confidence
  • Build positive relationships. The students who participate in this program build positive relationships with their adult mentor

Project Impact

  • Exposed approximately 450 3rd and 4th grade students to the scientific method through the kick-off and Mentos fountain activities.
  • Assisted a total of 118 different students in participating in the science fair.
  • 19 students participated in the program for 2 years.
  • This project was offered to 3rd and 4th grade students at Sumner and Neveln Elementary Schools during the 2014-15 school year to support students participating in the 2015 STEAM Expo. As a result, participation at Sumner increased by 540% and at Neveln increased by 270%. By supporting students, there is an increased participation in the STEAM Expo.
  • In 2014-15, 36 mentors volunteered approximately 363 hours to assist students with their science fair projects. An additional 30 Riverland students volunteered for the kick-off activity.
  • In 2015-16, 26 mentors volunteered approximately 115 hours to assist students with their projects. An additional 22 Riverland students volunteered for the kick-off activity.
  • 50% of the mentors from the first year participated in the project the second year.
  • Over 150 other volunteers assisted in additional ways with this project.

Photo Gallery

Contact Us

There are several ways to contact us:

  • Email: ScienceFairMentorMN@gmail.com
  • Phone: 507-438-6084
  • Facebook
  • Twitter: @SFMPMN