Ontario On-Line Research Co-op for high school students
The Online Research Co-op experiential education program has been collaboratively developed by The Journal of Student Science and Technology (formerly the Canadian Young Scientist Journal) and the federal Science and Technology Cluster (Science.gc.ca) to help students transition from secondary school into postsecondary education and introduce them to knowledge-based professions.
What is it?
The program matches highly motivated high school students, in grades 11 and 12, with top researchers in the fields of science and technology. Students are offered opportunities to work on research projects, to be immersed into professional online communication and work environments, and to gain early exposure to careers in science and technology. The online format of the learning makes it accessible to all students, including those who require more flexible schedules, and those living in remote areas.
Some of the research projects developed during the program were featured in The Journal of Student Science and Technology:
Schools that have participated in the program include:
- Earl Haig Secondary School
- École secondaire publique De la Salle
- Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate & Vocational Institute
- École secondaire catholique Algonquin
- Bloor Collegiate Institute
- Archbishop Denis O'Connor
- Centennial C.V.A.
- The Woodlands School
- West Carleton S.S.
- Bishop Allen Academy
- Richmond Hill High School
- Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School
- Collège catholique Samuel-Genest
- Lisgar Collegiate Institute
- Virtual Learning Centre
- Galt Collegiate Institute
- Garth Webb Secondary School
- Dunbarton High School
- Gary Allen High School
- École secondaire catholique Pierre-Savard
- Woburn Collegiate Institute
Ontario high schools can now apply to offer this opportunity for their students. Their letters of intent should be coordinated with the program liaison (firstname.lastname@example.org) and submitted to the Journal of Student Science and Technology.
Why should scientists participate as mentors?
This program allows participating scientists to mentor and shape the next generation of Canadian scientists through direct on-line contact. During a 4 month semester, students are expected to work for about 90 hours. Mentoring scientists are expected to contribute about 10 hours of their time over the same period. Click here to read what mentors have to say about the co-op program.
Early exposure to research can have a large impact on the career direction of these students. Recently, through The Journal of Student Science and Technology, high school students demonstrated their ability to invent New Bio-science technologies, Non-voice over IP communication and more. However, gifted students require mentors to guide their intellectual curiosity. Click here to read what students have to say about the co-op program.
What duties does mentorship entail?
Mentors have the opportunity to review the cover letter of students before accepting them as mentees. During an initial online meeting, the student and the mentor will discuss expectations and guidelines for the project. There will be generic assignments available for students (e.g., Writing a Scientific Paper, Critiquing a Scientific Paper, Report on Scientific Literature, Scientific Literature Review and Analysis), but the specifics of the project will be mutually agreed upon by both the student and mentor. An online SharePoint site will be a means for the students and mentors to share ideas, documents, and information. The mentor may be involved as little or as much as necessary in the student's project, based on the course progress indicators. Mentorship duties may be partially designated to a graduate student in the mentor's lab; however, all projects should provide students with the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in science and technology research. If you are interested in being a mentor, please contact please contact email@example.com.
Step-by-step program description:
1. Choosing students
A selection process takes place at the participating high schools to choose the students who will take part in the online co-op. Students develop their cover letters and a description of science projects they would like to pursue. The co-op liaison passes the names of the successful students along with their cover letters, research requests and alternatives to the Science.gc.ca team to engage scientists interested in mentoring.
2. Finding the mentors
The Science.gc.ca team matches projects with scientists who expressed interest in mentoring and helping to develop the next generation of scientists. If no exact match is found for a particular project, the Science.gc.ca team will approach potential mentors in a similar field of study. After reviewing materials from students, the scientists agree to mentor a particular student.
3. The interview
The liaison arranges a Skype or telephone "interview" between the student, the mentor and the local co-op teacher. During the interview, the mentor and student will discuss the project and the expectations while making any mutually acceptable modifications.
4. Setting up collaboration
The Science.gc.ca team creates a separate online SharePoint site for each student and a mentoring scientist. The collaboration space allows for an easy exchange of ideas, information, assigning research topics, and reviewing work submitted over the period of one semester. The information on the roles and responsibilities of the student and the mentor are integrated into the site. Participants, teachers and mentors also have access to a forum for sharing successes, tips, and lessons learned with other teams.
5. Using collaboration spaces
Based on the interview, the mentor adapts the project expectations and deliverables and uploads them to the SharePoint site. The mentor also provides a list of resources that the student can use as well as tasks to be accomplished. The student and the mentor regularly communicate online and the student posts timely progress updates and uploads results of completed tasks. The mentor approves the student's weekly timesheets and completes the mid-course and final evaluation forms online.
6. Measuring ongoing progress
Each collaboration site includes tools supporting ongoing interactions and measurement of student's progress. The mentor and the co-op teacher have an opportunity to be involved as little or as much as necessary based on the course progress indicators; the mentor can decide when the student needs assistance or guidance. The student and the mentor meet half way through the course via Skype or telephone to discuss progress and if necessary modify the expectations for the deliverables and the final report. By the end of the course the student submits results in a form of project report, case study or research topic review.
The Online Research Co-op Program supports students' transition from high school into postsecondary institutes with a focus on 21st century career development. We will celebrate the best projects in the following ways:
- Featuring them in The Journal of Student Science and Technology, distributed to every high school in Ontario;
- Presenting the projects at the Ontario Annual Science and Innovation conference to the attention of the national academic community;
- Creating a showcase on Science.gc.ca together with a Young Scientist Blog allowing students to share their experience and ideas.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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