What is GEMS?

Global Education MyScience (GEMS) is a primary school science and technology program that raises awareness of real world issues through the teaching of authentic science investigations. It is an inquiry based learning approach to science which provides support for teachers and students through collaboration between schools and the science community.


What is mentoring?

Student mentoring refers to the situations where teachers, other adults or older students work on a on-to-one or small group basis with primary students, to achieve planned outcomes.  Knowledge is transferred based on encouragement, constructive comments, openness, mutual trust, respect, and a willingness to learn and share.


How old will the students be?

The age range of students in a primary school is typically 5 – 12 years. 

The most likely ages of GEMS students is 8 – 12 years (Years 3 – 6).


How many students will I be working with?

Students work in pairs or groups of three with one mentor working with two or three groups of students.  This means one mentor will be supporting two or three different investigations.  There can be up to five mentors in the classroom during each school visit.


When will I be needed?

The optimum number of mentor visits is three.  Mentor visits are scheduled according to the sequence of learning activities in the GEMS implementation plan.  Between the school visits you may communicate online with your students to progress their investigations.  The class teacher will arrange the communication method.


How much time is required?

The total time commitment is approximately eight hours.  This breaks down as follows:

  • three school visit of 60 - 90 minutes
  • two hours for online communication
  • 60 minute orientation/preparatory period

It is highly recommended that mentors attend their students’ science fair, but this is not mandatory.


What am I required to do?

Your role is to support the students in their quest to conduct their scientific investigations.  Ask the students lots of questions.  Simple yes/no questions are a good place to start:

  • Do you understand what you are doing?
  • Have you tried this before? 

As they become more comfortable with this style of learning and communicating with you ask them some open-ended questions:

  • What might happen if you tried this approach?
  • Why do you predict that outcome?
  • Can you describe the internet searches you have undertaken?

At every stage ask them to think about what they are doing:

  • Why are you doing it like that?
  • What impact might your results have on society?

Remember though to pause, to watch, to listen and most importantly - to enjoy!

Talk to your students about your won interest in science or engineering – how it developed, the subjects that you studied in high school, or university and what these experiences were like.  Put aside the first 20 minutes of your first visit for just getting to know your students.  Find out their interests – these may provide you with insights for how to ‘tweak’ student investigations so that they have more appeal.


What’s in it for me?

Mentoring provides an opportunity to contribute to a student’s development, reflect upon one’s own career, share experience and knowledge and maybe even discover new ways of thinking.  The encouragement students receive from a supportive mentor will help enhance a student’s belief in their own abilities.

Based on original work by Joanne Michael, Quakers Hill East Public School. Adapted by Anne Forbes, ACU

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