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Mentor Guidelines

Thank you so much for being a mentor at the SPARK Hackathon! You are giving regional high school students an amazing opportunity! We know you are busy and serving as a mentor to high school students may seem daunting, but the key is really your presence and interaction with the students. Here are a few guidelines to consider:

  • Be sure to introduce yourself and share a little bit about what you do and how you got to where you are now. Students really know very little about real-world opportunities in computing/IT.
  • You’ve been there, done that. Share your experience, but don’t do it for them. Help teams get to the answers to their questions quicker. Give crash-course tutorials. Help them test & debug.
  • Engage teams around their “scrum” board and help them think through the design process, as well as their to-dos.. What haven’t they thought of to add to their list? Where are they stuck?
  • Be patient with learners; don’t expect students to understand a new concept the first time or the manner in which you explain it. If you get stuck, collaborate with another mentor.
  • Remind teams to test their assumptions, especially about their end users. Find ways for them to connect with their target audience to gain feedback throughout their process.
  • There will not be enough time in the hackathon to come up with a final solution. Help teams manage their expectations and goals so that participants are able to achieve some accomplishments.
  • Just as important, if not more, is getting through the failures. Celebrate each hurdle that is overcome and if possible, help participants reflect on what they learned.
  • This hackathon is not a competition. Encourage and celebrate with all the teams. This weekend is all about learning something new. The process is more important than the outcome. Encourage teams to rehearse their final presentations and give constructive feedback.
  • Can’t be here the whole weekend, but really connected with a team or two? Be sure to check in with them online. We’ll be collaborating on slack.
  • Have fun:)