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JOB: Online Mentorship Facilitator for Computer Science Career Network, NY Hall of Science.

Position Profile: 
Online Mentorship Facilitator for The Computer Science Career Network 
New York Hall of Science

About the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)

The New York Hall of Science, New York City’s hands-on science museum and host to close to a half a million visitors every year, serves the most ethnically diverse population in the country reflecting the institution’s home borough of Queens and also that of the greater metropolitan area.

NYSCI is a science center of national caliber that routinely receives federal funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. These funds have most recently been used to develop a national model for conveying the molecular basis of health related sciences and to contribute to the field new information about how children learn about evolution. In 2008 Parents magazine ranked NYSCI as one of the ten best science centers for families in their national report.

Built originally for the 1964 World’s Fair, NYSCI continues to capture the spirit of discovery and innovation that was at the heart of this event. NYSCI offers an unparalleled range of 425 interactive exhibits that invite visitors to explore varied aspects of science, technology, engineering and math. By combining these exhibits with the country’s largest outdoor science playground and their newest exhibit, Rocket Park Mini Golf, along with discovery labs, teacher-training programs and internationally replicated science education programs for urban youth, NYSCI brings the excitement and understanding of science and technology to children, families and teachers throughout the New York metro-region and beyond.

The New York Hall of Science is a major provider of graduate, professional and methods in-service teacher training in the physical sciences, and one of the top three providers in other sciences in New York City. Beginning Fall 2009, it became the largest provider of FOSS training for schools selecting this new, Department of Education-adopted science curriculum. It is also the only provider of state-of-the-art portable lab equipment for use in schools with inadequate labs.

About TopCoder and the Computer Science Career Network

Topcoder is a community, with a global membership of digital professionals and a large and growing clientele, in which “crowdsourcing” is used to build commercial software applications. Through a web interface experts participate in competitions to create optimal solutions to a variety of software problems. Experts participating in this network comprise a pool of potential mentors for young people interested in STEM careers.

TopCoder has recently received a significant award from DARPA to develop an innovative approach to recruit and educate young people in STEM disciplines. Entitled the Computer Science Career Network (CSCN) it will attract students through ongoing, age-appropriate online practice activities and competitions, educational content, discussion, role models, and mentoring to develop Computer Science STEM (CS-STEM) skills and foster lasting interest in CS-STEM careers.

TopCoder has observed firsthand the decreasing performance of U.S. competitors in its international computer programming competitions over the past 8 years, and proposes to reverse that trend by incorporating aspects of its existing platform and infrastructure and building important new technology and content. This content will attract middle school and high school students to age- and skill-appropriate competitions with a defined path towards the pursuit of CS-STEM careers. The program will be successful because it harnesses the early adoption of online, social media, and mobile technology by U.S. youth to reverse the negative stigma often associated with excelling in STEM areas in the classroom, and fosters the interest and skills of children early enough in their education.

TopCoder has contracted with the NYSCI to assist in developing an approach to online mentorship that will fit with TopCoder’s digital culture but will nurture and facilitate the mentorship process and provide effective support resources for participants in the CSCN community.

Position Overview

The Online Mentorship Facilitator (OMF) will help develop and run an online mentorship program for adults who are serving as mentors to middle and high school students in learning computer programming skills. Mentors will be drawn from computer science and programming communities and may have widely varying degrees of familiarity in working with and coaching young people. Responsibilities include developing an online system of support that helps mentors to learn how to work with a pre-collegiate student population. The OMF will be responsible for creating a set of training materials that will prepare adult mentors for this work. The materials will also include competency-based assessments that can be used to evaluate each mentor’s readiness to work with mentees. The training resources will be utilized in an online, Web-based system.

Responsibilities Include:

The OMF must have experience in teaching and learning in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) discipline and teacher professional development. Experience in developing and using electronic education delivery systems is also important, as is some familiarity with learning theory. Computer programming experience is also preferred. A Bachelor’s degree in education or a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) discipline is required, but a Masters degree or equivalent graduate level work is preferredWhile prior experience in a museum is not required, experience in a cultural or research setting or in college or a university setting is advantageous. Excellent written, verbal communication, project management and organizational skills are also a plus The Online Mentorship Facilitator is a half-time position.

Qualified candidates may apply for the position with a resume and cover letter to

The New York Hall of Science offers a competitive salary and benefits package and is an equal opportunity employer.