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Mentoring a Greenpower Race Team: Episode 1

[ Edited ]

I’m an engineer, tinkerer, father, house flipper, techie geek, explorer, teacher, and one who love kids. How could I wrap all these hobbies into one activity? When I heard about Greenpower I was immediately hooked. This program is designed to get kids interested in STEM through building and driving a race car. Building rockets, robots, etc. is fun, but to drive something you just built, sounded like a home run.

 

I decided to take on mentoring 2 Greenpower racing teams, Discovery Middle School, and Bob Jones High School, (photos coming soon). In the last 6 months I successfully taught two teams of kids how to plan, design, build, measure, win, lose, work with strangers, resolve conflict, and on and on.

If this sounds like fun--which it is, become a mentor yourself. I’ll walk you through my journey of mentoring Greenpower race teams, so book mark this site.

 

Lesson 1: mentoring is about guiding, not doing—otherwise this program becomes an elaborate pinewood derby car. My approach was to simply ask questions to drive the team towards a goal. For example, I posed an initial question “when is our first race and what do we need to do to prepare for it”? If the team missed a point, like when to charge the batteries, I’d raise that issue—that helped them think deeper. Mentoring may require doing but only for teaching. The power wires were not well crimped to the wires and were slipping off. My teams were never exposed to using a wire crimper, so I did the first one, watched them do the second, now they are experts and did the rest by themselves.

 

You don’t need to be an engineer, race car driver, welder, mechanic, marketing director, or other fancy profession, the kids will figure most of this out, you just need to get kids pointed in the right direction and be a sounding board. If and when you do need some expertise outside your comfort zone, call upon a colleague to be a guest speaker (mentor)--most are willing to donate an hour for a good cause.

 

I realize this first post may not be the answer to life, but stay with me and things will move faster…

 

Kris a.k.a. "CoachK"

Kris Kasprzak