How to Start a STEM Mentoring Program for Students

Mentoring programs are an impactful way to assist students throughout their STEM learning journey. Through STEM mentoring programs, students make real-world connections with successful STEM professionals, leading to increased engagement in the classroom. This relationship with a STEM mentor allows students to ask questions, get guidance, better navigate their education, and make a more seamless transition into the STEM workforce. 

This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to implement a successful STEM mentoring program at the school and classroom levels.

Assessing Your Needs and Goals

Before starting a mentoring program, educators and school administrators should assess the specific needs of their students and define clear objectives for the program. This thoughtful start to creating the STEM mentoring program allows it to be better tailored to the student’s unique needs, leading to a more successful program in the future. 


Here are a couple of sample starter questions to ask before creating the mentoring program:

  1. Are there any gaps in the current STEM education curriculum map?
  2. What STEM topics seem to interest my students most?
  3. What age are the majority of students who will be in the mentoring program?
  4. Does that program need to focus more on STEM fundamentals first? Or, can it jump straight into potential career paths and skill-building?

Securing Buy-in and Support

To create a successful program, it is important to have the support of others. This support can come from school administrators, teachers, parents, and community members. By having the buy-in of these individuals, educators have the resources they need to create a foundational sound mentoring program that is 100 percent focused on student success. 

Designing the Program Structure

Mentoring programs are not cookie-cutter and can be customized to meet the needs of the students and to better fit into the classroom schedule. When structuring a STEM mentoring program, it is important to think about the mentoring style and frequency of touchpoints.

Mentoring Style

  • One-on-One Mentoring
  • Group Mentoring
  • Classroom Mentoring 
  • A Combination of These Styles

Touchpoint Frequency

  • Weekly 
  • Bi-Weekly 
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly

Recruiting Mentors

When recruiting mentors in STEM, it is important to create a roster with gender, race, and age diversity. This wide representation will give each student someone who looks like them who they can learn from and see as a role model. These qualified, passionate individuals can be found at local universities and nearby STEM businesses.

Training and Resources for Mentors

Once mentors have been selected, they should undergo some level of training on how to effectively engage with students. This introduction to mentoring better prepares them to help students navigate their STEM learning journey, giving them the confidence needed to push students to be the best version of themselves in the classroom and their future careers.

Engaging Students

Once the STEM mentoring program is in place, it is essential to keep students engaged and excited about the program. Below is a list of ways to capture and retain student interest in a mentoring program:

  • Focus on implementing engaging hands-on projects for students and their mentors to work on together.
  • Have activities planned that are focused on student career exploration, connecting classroom lessons to real-world applications. 
  • Plan field trips to mentors’ workplaces and plan to have students either tour or shadow for a couple of hours.
  • Give awards and prizes to successful, engaged students in the program.
  • Allow students to give feedback on the mentoring program and implement changes wherever possible.

Monitoring and Evaluating the Program

The opinions and feedback of those involved in the mentoring program are the most effective ways to evaluate the current state of the program and plan for future improvements. Below are some of the many ways to gather productive feedback on your STEM mentoring program – from both students and mentors.

  • Surveys 
  • Interviews
  • Progress Reports 
  • Focus Groups

Inspiring Future STEM Leaders

STEM mentoring programs are an effective way to get students engaged in STEM learning and promote them following a path that leads to the STEM workforce. Educators and school administrators have the power to institute successful mentoring programs at the school and classroom levels that help students spark a passion for STEM learning. If you are currently creating a mentoring program or are planning to create one soon, use this article as a resource throughout the structuring and fine-tuning process. 

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