Maker Mentors Program

@henry has been kicking this idea around for a bit of Maker Mentors (my title, not his… title TBD) and I wanted to see if we could get a conversation going, maybe get some interested folks, and see if we can kick start an idea like this. Henry, of course please feel free to add anything you’ve been thinking of as well.

The basics are similar to BBBS (Big Brother Big Sister) in its conception. We would match interested mentors up with interested young people and those mentors would shepherd them through learning “makery” things. Maybe for some its more about electronics/programming/software, for others its more about woodworking, crafting, or metal working.

I think the goal is to mentor them through “thinking like a maker”. Ie, looking at the world around them as something they have the opportunity to shape and change.

Before we get mired in the complexities of this, clearly there’s some concerns on the administrative side of things that we’ll have to address (background checks for mentors, policies around minors and tools, waivers, parent permissions, transport, all of that stuff). I don’t want to downplay those things, but let’s think around those things for the moment and assume we can work through them.

I’m interested in a number of things for discussion:
Who among us might be interested in being a mentor?
What “areas” would you think you’d be good at mentoring?
Are you interested in helping outside of mentoring to help this program along (It would need some volunteer “staff” to make it sustainable)?
What challenges do you see from a program standpoint (again, lets not focus on the legal/administrative challenges, but rather how to make this a good/sustainable program for the participants)?
What additional resources could LMN use to make this awesome?
Does anyone have any experiences in a program like BBBS (either as participant or mentor) that can we can use to inform us?

Answer any or all, or just add to the discussion.

One of the other things I’m interested in as well, is the mentor acting as a networker to connect the student to the right people in our communities. So, maybe I take on someone who’s interested in electronics, but we start playing around with more complicated things and so I rope in @RealCarlRaymond or @michael to help with us with some stuff. Kind of mirroring the way we connect with each other in the space, and maybe encouraging that mindset for them.

Anyhow, thoughts are welcome.

From the little time I’ve spent at LMN, I can see a wealth of collective knowledge that could benefit ‘youts’ — Joe Pesci, in My Cousin Vinny

I have no such specific knowledge other than in the area in which I teach, graphic design, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t want to do that at work, and then at LMN…

What I could bring along, unfortunately is an intangible… with no specific goal in mind. If I could infect inquisitiveness, passion, and dedication; that’s what I’d like to do — but its very open ended, a very much for the individuals to figure things out for themselves. Let me explain: if i said, I’ll teach you to make a table, the table is the goal. If I say, I’m interested in making something I’ve never made, the goal would be the process of research… asking, looking here and there, learning this and that… it takes an entrepreneurial mind set… and often

And if anyone would sign up, I’d be happy to ‘mentor.’

I think the mentorship should be intensive and one on one. And start with a limited number; preferably small.

Were do you dig out the kids? Middle school? High school?

We talk to teachers in art programs in both middle school and high school… asking them to identify those kids they feel have potential. We than try to rope these kids into summer sessions — the thinking: the earlier we can start them off, the better.

Not sure my rant helps… but the dialogue can get going.

I think what you’re describing is an underlying thing we’d be looking for when recruiting mentors. It’s not as much about someone’s particular skill, but what they can bring to the student from the intangible side. Curiosity, imagination, and experimentation are all a big part of being a “successful” maker.

I’d love to focus on those intrinsic / intangible qualities and use the actual work building things as a way to “play” with that idea.

We agree. However, an ‘internship’ assumes you come out with an important tangible skill — one that might lead to a job… just saying …

Hmm. I hadn’t thought of it as a skilled trades kind of thing. Personally, I’m not thinking this should have a skilled trades focus or goal.

Perhaps if we have mentors with skilled-trades backgrounds at some point it’s worth considering, but I think even then there’s probably other opportunities for apprenticeship for students looking to go that route.

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Like the idea, feel that if you been fortunate, need to “PAY FORWARD”. Still can’t forget the legal stuff, but can’t let that stop forward motion.