The Savanturiers Digital and Technology Scholars Pilot Programme supported by the Foundation since its launch in 2015, promotes learning through research. This program, sponsored by Thales researchers and engineers, supports classes in implementing a scientific project. Since the beginning of the 2017 school year, Sarah K. and David S. have participated in the programme and share their experience with us.
Who are you? What was your motivation for becoming a mentor for the programme?
Sarah: My name is Sarah K., I am an engineer in Paris and I work on cyber security projects for Thales products. When the Foundation was launched, I immediately embraced the idea and registered as a volunteer on the platform. During a slightly calmer summer period professionally, I took a closer look at the volunteer propositions and came across the Savanturiers. Education is of particular interest to me, both personally and professionally, and the time required of mentors was reasonable.
David: I am David S., a systems architect in Grenoble. I discovered the Savanturiers programme by regularly consulting the Foundation’s news on our Citadel network. The idea of exchanging with students to help them to build the connection between their learning and the professional world really motivated me. Providing them with a professional vision and technological skills was also very stimulating.
What project did you set up with the children? Why?
Sarah: Last year, I worked with a second grade teacher who wanted his students to develop a video game. I had already had developed a game in my previous position. It was a very interesting experience, especially during the workshops that I was able to co-facilitate with the teacher in their classroom. The students went to the end of the development and were able to present their game at the Savanturiers Congress in June, which is such a feat for young children!
David: The students and the teacher wanted to make a robot that could contribute to saving energy. While talking with them I discovered that the environment and ecology in particular were important to them. They were also aware that at the end of the day, or when they left for recess, fun took precedence over thinking about turning off the classroom light. That is how they imagined building a robot that manipulates the switches in the classroom to turn off the light in case they forget!
What was your most rewarding experience as a mentor?
Sarah: The moments spent in contact with children in the classroom. During my second visit to the school, I was extremely surprised to see that all the children recognized me and were looking forward to me coming! We were also able to organize a visit of the students on my Thales site to introduce them to a working environment and give them the opportunity to present their game to working professionals.
David: To share their joy and pride when they showed me an article about their work on the first version of the robot published in the March 2019 issue of “J’aime Lire” magazine.
Have you noticed a personal impact, for example a change in perception or personal change since you have started mentoring?
Sarah: We realize that by getting involved a little, we can have a really positive impact, and also that we can translate methods used in companies to school children.
David: Yes, the children are very open to change, they learn very quickly. There is never a dead end situation, even if the proposed idea is completely unexpected or out of the box! My motivation to not neglect any stakeholder in my projects has developed a lot as well as my ability and willingness to listen to innovative ideas!
What advice would you give to a potential Thales mentor?
Sarah: You have to dare to go for it. When I applied as a mentor, I was not convinced I had something interesting to bring to a teacher, but we found a rhythm with the teacher. Finally, I would advise not to overlook the mentor’s presence in the classroom because contact with children is what is richest in my opinion.
David: We are all potential mentors! Whatever your position in the group, you have something to contribute: your vision, your experience in your field, don’t hesitate! Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone, you will participate in the making of a beautiful project, that of motivated young people!
Learn more about the pilot programme here.
To become a mentor for the 2019-2020 programme, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org