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Learning and Communicating about Gravity in Astronomy

IAU100 Einstein Schools – Mentor FAQ

The Einstein Schools Programme, a global project of the International Astronomical Union 100 Years Celebration, is looking for mentors to encourage middle and high school students around the world.

What is the Einstein Schools Programme?

The Einstein Schools Programme helps schools all over the world to explore the role of gravity in modern astronomy through the exciting topics of eclipses, gravity waves, space-time, and the detection of gravity waves emitted from compact objects such as black holes and neutron stars. Students can also learn about how Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity was confirmed 100 years ago during a total solar eclipse.

Teachers are encouraged to form a student team, pick a topic and create a plan to explore that topic with the team. Once the plan has been carried out, schools can become an official Einstein School. Currently, more than 200 schools from 45 countries have signed up and are taking the first steps to become Einstein Schools!

Why do we need mentors?

Most students have never met or talked to a scientist. We want to change that. Also, in most countries, the topic of gravity in astronomy is not part of the formal school curriculum. Therefore, science teachers could use help from you as they work with the students. For students, mentors are important role models that inspire and excite them towards STEM careers.

What kind of mentors are we looking for?

Mentors can be university students, PhD candidates, postdoc or faculty members in the field of astronomy or physics. You don’t need to be an expert in Einstein Schools topics, but we expect some basic knowledge about astronomy, gravity, Einstein’s theory, and a willingness to dive into topics where needed.

We are looking for mentors who enjoy answering questions from students and teachers in an accessible way and who like to share experiences about their own work and life as a scientist. A mentor’s job is to encourage students and teachers, not to impress them or even to teach them directly. Because this is a global project, we encourage mentors who speak other languages to sign up as well!

What do we expect from a mentor?

After we connect you to a school, the most important thing to do is talk to the teacher about their expectations and needs. We also encourage mentors and teachers to discuss expectations regarding how much time a mentor can spend on the project. You decide how much time you can spend on this project, but we do ask of the mentors to be available for more than just one Skype-session.

Ideas for mentorship include:

  • Skype-sessions with the teacher and students in their classroom to answer basic questions (for example, once a month)
  • Suggesting topics / ideas to explore gravity to the teachers and students
  • Giving general encouragement to students who may want to go into STEM fields
  • Give a short talk about a topic (at a local school or via Skype)
  • Visiting a local school (when close by)

Of course, these ideas are suggestions and we welcome any other ideas that mentors might have!

How can you sign up?

If you would like to be a mentor or have any questions, please send an email to mentors@einsteinschools.org. We will then answer questions and try to find the best match between mentors and schools.

Mentor Code of Conduct

The IAU opposes any discrimination or harassment based on such factors as ethnic origin, religion, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or age.