Can middle school students work with mentors?

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Can middle school students work with mentors?

Postby candy4me » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:09 pm


I am a rising 8th grader interested in researching colloidal quantum dot photovoltaics. I have been reading the Science Buddies How to Find a Mentor page and the questions that have already been asked about finding a mentor. Most of them refer to high school students working with mentors. I have chosen a complex research topic and I think that a mentor would be able to offer me information and advice that can't be found elsewhere. However, I am concernced that potential mentors will not be interested in taking on a middle school student. Am I too young to work with a mentor in a lab? Should I wait until high school to contact potential mentors?

I am also having trouble finding a potential mentor in my area that works in the field of quantum dot photovoltaics. I have been looking at many of the universities and colleges near me to see if I can find researchers working in the topic that I have chosen. However, I have only found one person who works with dye senstized solar cells but does not have any papers written on the subject.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your time.
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Re: Can middle school students work with mentors?

Postby rk9109 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:57 pm


I'm no expert, but you can certainly work with a mentor for your science project. I had
a "mentor" last year in seventh grade, although my project was relatively simple. Plus,
I had access to a past ISEF winner and his mentor, so I didn't have too much trouble as most
people finding help.

But if you are planning on doing a more advanced and involved project, it will be harder to
find a mentor. The fact that you are a middle-schooler, unfortunately, may make professors
and researchers less willing to help you, but this should not be a deterrent. If you keep trying,
it is likely that you may eventually find a mentor.

Although they aren't any people in your area researching in that specific field, you could look
for people who have a thorough knowledge of a more general field related to your subject.
So if you're interested in Quantum Dot solar cells, maybe you could look for people in chemical
engineering or electrical?

What I did was to try and learn as much about my subject as possible and then send an email to
them that showed that I did know what I was doing (to an extent). The email got a little long,
which could have just deterred some professors from wanting to answer it, but I got a response
eventually, so I guess it worked.

I'm just a beginner so my advice probably isn't the best advice, but things worked out for me
and hopefully they will for you. :)
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