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Your chapter should start by identifying an advisor (or alumni) who can help organize your MindSET program. You must elect a MindSET officer or chair. Your advisory board should meet to outline expectations and answer the following questions:
- Which officers will be responsible for managing your MindSET program?
Depending on your chapter’s specific needs, you may have fewer or more coordinators. An example of MindSET positions:
- Primary Coordinator - In charge of coordinating the entire effort.
- Fund-raising Chair - Obtain additional sources of funds, e.g. by advertising to companies, applying for the TBP MindSET Grant (http://www.tbp.org/mindset), etc.
- Society Outreach - Reach out to other societies for volunteers, and recruit societies to create and execute modules.
- How many members or electees are available to help run Saturday sessions?
Personnel needs are driven by number of participants - it is important to have a good volunteer-to-student ratio. The number of participants is determined after chapters have identified their schools and planned their activities. Feel free to use non-TBP volunteers as well - quality of education is a widespread concern.
- Are other campus organizations interested in getting involved?
Identify societies that may be interested in participating in the K12 effort. Various societies - especially other honor societies - may already require their members to do service and may be on the lookout for opportunities. Do not overlook involvement of community college engineering-prep students where possible.
- Where will you host the Saturday session?
Are campus rooms available? The K-12 students get a kick out of participating in activities on the university campus. A community college campus is also a good site.
- What High Schools, Middle Schools, and/or Elementary will you target?
Work with the school district to select a small group of starter schools in a feeder pattern. Typically, chapters should not start with more than 4 schools for example: one elementary, two middle, and one high school which are in a feeder pattern.
- When will you start Saturday sessions?
Typically chapters should not attempt more than 5 Saturday Engineering sessions each semester. Each session should be no more than 3 hours long.
- How will you manage the participant data?
MindSET has standard data tracking templates on the TBP MindSET homepage. The permission for release of student information must signed by parents at the time of registration so that a record can be kept for each student participant. Math and science historical performance benchmarks should be established for the school district, each participating school, and the student participants. Attendance roll should be taken at each Saturday session. Arrangements should be made with the school districts for provision of student performance data at the end of each semester.
Unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary, chapters should seek to start their programs in the school district in which the chapter is located. It is extremely important for your chapter to establish a strong relationship with the school district. Seek to work with those districts with which your college, your chapter, and/or your advisor(s) have an established relationship. This will make it much easier to establish the K-12 partnership.
Begin your search by checking with your engineering administrators and staff in the student services area to determine if there are any K-12 projects currently underway. If so, assess whether your chapter can provide leadership for the existing project(s). Next, select potential districts based on proximity and/or student need. Then set up a meeting with the school district administrators (your chapter advisor or district director should also attend) to discuss the proposed project and your chapter’s interest in working with K-12 students on math, science, and engineering preparation. Once the school district administrators are onboard, they will assist you in arranging meetings with the school(s) you are interested in working with. Be sure to obtain the permission of the school district before contacting any schools. Before committing to a district or school, you must do background research on student performance (See Data Collection section). Your chapter must always work side-by-side with the school district, complementing their work through your efforts. Other approaches will be ineffective.
Keeping the goals of MindSET in mind, seek to work with schools where the impact of your activities can be seen. Early exposure is beneficial for student learning, therefore MindSET’s goal is to start in elementary or middle schools. However, some chapters might not have the resources to support Elementary, Middle, and High school programs. Therefore, MindSET encourages chapters with limited resources to start in middle school.
Identify elementary, middle, and high schools schools in a feeder pattern: in other words, your elementary schools should feed into your middle schools which should, in turn, feed into the high schools. Typically, chapters should not start with more than four schools (e.g. 1 elementary, 2 middle, and 1 high school). In the long term, chapters should aim to serve all schools in a feeder pattern in order to more reliably track student progress over the course of their studies and to better assess the effectiveness of the K-12 program.
Chapters have found that the easiest age groups to target are 3rd through 6th grades. Chapters may find it difficult to teach basic engineering concepts to younger students, but the students are extremely inquisitive and are ready to learn from fun activities. Tau Beta Pi Chapters have developed student modules which are available on the modules page. Students tend to learn better with individual attention; therefore, Tau Beta Pi recommends a high mentor-to-student ratio (1 volunteer for every 2–3 students) at student modules.