Become a Mentor

Calling professionals and teachers (both current and retired) in Science, Technology, Engineering, digital Arts and design, or Mathematics: we need your help!

We invite you to provide feedback and support to inquisitive students by signing up as a Mentor of the BC/Yukon Virtual Science Fair.

Registration deadline: Sunday, May 31st, 2020.

BCVSF Mentor Expectations

  • June 1 - 12: For each assigned project - review project submissions, including any support material (project board, report, log book, visual aid, etc.) submitted by the student(s)
  • 1 hour to be scheduled between June 5 - 7: Attend a mandatory Mentor's Briefing session. Several sessions may be scheduled, depending on Mentors' availability.
  • June 8 - 12: For each assigned project, conduct min. 15-minute Project Interviews with student(s) via video or tele-conference*
  • By the end of June 12: For each assigned project, provide written feedback to the BCVSF via forms (instructions will be provided)

*Project Interviews can only begin after the student’s parent/legal guardian, or teacher, is also present in the calls.

Mentors will also be invited to the live-streaming of the Closing Ceremonies for the participants, to be held in mid-June (date & time TBA): this is an optional event for Mentors.

Expected Time Commitment

20 to 30 minutes per assigned project + 1 hour for Mentor’s Briefing = Total of ~2.5 to 3 hours.

Once the Project Submission deadline passes, we will reach out to you to confirm which project(s) you are assigned to and provide you with a password to log into the project portal to review the project submissions.

Typically, judges at science fairs would interview at least 3-4 projects, and may opt to interview more if they wish. In reviewing your assigned projects prior to any Project Interviews, you may find other projects on the site that you are interested in speaking with – let us know!

What is Mentorship?

Traditionally, science fair project mentorship is a process involving communication between an advisor and a student. The advisor – a scientist, teacher, parent, or other individual– may provide guidance and advice in their area of expertise.

A mentoring relationship may be informal (for example, if you already know someone with expertise in your area of interest) or may be formalized as part of a mentorship program. Mentors may make suggestions and help point students in useful directions, but cannot (a) come up with the project idea themselves, or (b) do the project themselves.

The BCVSF is not a formal mentorship program. However, once introduced via the BCVSF, students may take the initiative to ask their BCVSF mentor for ways to stay in touch and ask follow-up questions regarding their field of work.

A caution when interviewing projects completed with mentor support

Remember, a project is not necessarily better because it makes use of sophisticated lab equipment. The student’s knowledge (obtained through research, observations, and analysis) and resourcefulness in using tools available to them to answer a question or solve a problem is what makes a science fair project great. Fancier tools do not make for a better project – even if it appears to be graduate student-level work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Participants

Which grade levels do you accept?

Grades 4 – 12

What is the cost of this event?

This event is FREE!! We are not charging any fees for this event.

Which locations/regions do you accept projects from?

Students from BC and the Yukon are encouraged to participate. While we could accept students from other regions, students from BC and the Yukon will take priority in terms of receiving Project Interviews, if we do not have enough mentors for all students.

How many Mentors will I be matched with?

The BCVSF strives to match each project with at least 2-3 Mentors.

After showcasing my project at the BCVSF, will my project still be eligible for BC Regional Science Fairs next year, in 2021? Will it still be eligible for competition at the Canada-Wide Science Fair next year, in 2021?

Yes, you can bring the same project to the 2021 Regional Science Fairs in BC. We have also confirmed with Youth Science Canada, the hosts of the Canada-Wide Science Fair, that you may also bring the same project to the 2021 Canada-Wide Science Fair should your project be selected to advance by the Regional Judging Committee. The BCVSF is a great opportunity to receive early feedback on your project, to prepare you for fairs in 2021!

Can I win awards through the BCVSF?

This is a mentorship-oriented fair where students can showcase their work and receive valuable feedback on their projects. All students will automatically be considered for available awards (awards list TBC). Distinguished projects may be selected to be featured in media interviews. All students with accepted project submissions will be entered to win prizes. Prizes will be drawn at the Virtual Closing Ceremonies in mid-June (schedule will be emailed out to all participants).

Can I see everyone's projects?

All projects that have provided Publication Consent via the submission form, and have provided the signed consent form by their parent/legal guardian (form to be emailed after project submission is complete), will be published on the site for public viewing after all Project Interviews are complete by mid-June. Until then, only Mentors and the BCVSF are able to view the accepted project submissions. If your teacher would like to view the projects ahead of public viewing, please have them contact us.

This is my first ever science fair - how do I get started?

Fantastic, welcome to the club! We’ve all been there – getting started can be tough. Check out our favourite project resources for project guides and inspiration, and let us know if you have any questions!

Mentors and Supporters

How will the Project Interviews be conducted?

Students and Mentors will be provided video/tele-conferencing links/numbers and a specific timeslot for the Project Interview. The student(s)’ parent/legal guardian or teacher must also be present during the Project Interview Session. A Doodle poll will be sent out to students and mentors, for scheduling the Project Interviews. Students are responsible for ensuring that their parent/legal guardian or teacher is available for the confirmed Project Interview time.

Which locations/regions do you accept mentors from?

Mentors can participate from any physical location. Due to the nature of this being a Virtual event for minors, we require all mentors to provide their work/professional email. We reserve the right to remove mentors who we cannot verify.

What are the expectations for mentors?

Please check this page for the BCVSF’s Mentor expectations, the average expected time commitment for Mentors, and what Mentorship means.

How will projects be assigned?

Mentors will receive project assignments based on their area(s) of expertise, with instruction on how to access the submitted reference material for the project ahead of the Project Interviews.

How many projects will I be matched with?

The average mentor will likely be matched with 3-4 projects. Aside from these, you are also free to choose other projects to provide feedback for, from the pool of submitted projects.

As a potential mentor, what if I do not or no longer have a work/professional email?

We welcome mentors who are university students with mentorship experience; graduate students; retired teachers; and retired professionals with mentorship experience. Current students at post-secondary institutions can use their school email for verification, and we ask that retired teachers/professionals please provide their previous position and employer name.

When will the mandatory Mentor's Briefing take place?

We will send out a Doodle poll after Mentor Registration closes, for times between June 5th – 7th.

How can I / my organization help with this initiative?

Thank you for your interest in this Virtual Science Fair! If you are able to donate prizes or funds so we can purchase more prizes for the students, please let us know. Please help us spread the word about this event so we can connect more students with more mentors! Example social posts: Support inquisitive students through this Virtual Science Fair! Sign up to mentor by May 31st at connectingideas.ca @sciencefairs #STEAMathome The BC Virtual Science Fair is open to students in grades 4 to 12 across BC and the Yukon! Students can receive mentorship on their project through virtual project interview sessions with experts in their field, and be entered to win gift cards – check it out at connectingideas.ca @sciencefairs #STEAMathome

I want to donate a prize or award - how do I do this?

PRIZES: We welcome the following prizes, to distributed to students via random draws at the Closing Ceremonies of the BCVSF in mid-June:
A) Gift cards/certificates to online retailers that deliver province-wide, or to local stores/restaurants (the latter will be provided only to students who are located within the same region);
B) Online subscription to educational platforms or Audible credits;
C) Museum/gallery tickets or memberships;
D) Physical prizes that can be distributed through a central channel within the region (e.g. pick-up at store);
E) Monetary donations for the Science Fair Foundation of BC to purchase digital gift certificates for online retailers (e.g. Indigo, Staples, Amazon) to provide to students as prizes.

As our participating students range from cities in the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria, to remote areas within BC and the Yukon, we welcome both digital prizes that can easily be accessed by students regardless of location as well as location-specific prizes that encourage students from your local community to participate.

As a registered non-profit charity, the Science Fair Foundation of BC is able to issue tax receipts for any donations made. Please contact us if you would like to make a donation.

AWARDS: Please contact us if you would like to donate an award. In your message, please provide:
1) The total amount of the award;
2) Number of awards and amount per award;
3) Award name;
4) Award description; and
5) Award criteria.