Locate a Relevant Professional – Whatever your youth are studying, encourage them to contact the expert in that field. So what if they are a physicist and have won a Nobel Prize…you can’t assume that they wouldn’t be willing to work with students. If you are unable to locate an expert, or aren’t quite sure whether you can locate a trusted STEM professional, contact your local university or Cooperative Extension office.
Consider Connecting with Technology – Students of today are digital natives. They don’t see a difference between developing learning communities face-to-face and developing learning communities online. This opens the door of your classroom to a whole world of potential STEM professionals.
Connect Visually – Whether using technology or meeting face-to-face, never underestimate the power of the youth being able to see the STEM professionals they are connecting with at least once.
Open the Door for Developing a Learning Community – Make sure that at the end of your initial discussion with the STEM professional that there are ongoing opportunities (email, Skype, Google Hangout, etc.) for your youth to connect with that professional to develop a deeper understanding of the topic, or perhaps, just to ask additional questions that didn’t come to mind during the initial opportunity.
Create Win-Win Opportunities for On-Going Collaboration – There is nothing more powerful than the ability to not only connect with a STEM professional but to actually collaborate with that professional to develop something. Student collaboration with STEM professionals will help them understand the real world application of the concepts you are teaching. Collaboration toward the conclusion of a report, project or innovation where all collaborators have had significant contributions will strengthen the youth-adult partnership and create a solid environment for the ongoing mentoring of future STEM professionals.