SpectrUM Science Learning Tent at Arlee Celebration Earns National Distinction

June 26, 2014

MISSOULAThe University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area and its community partners on the Flathead Indian Reservation recently received an honorable mention in the Noyce Foundation’s Bright Lights Community Engagement Awards competition.

The distinction honors spectrUM’s work with educators and scientists on the Flathead Reservation to orchestrate K-12 science, technology, engineering and math programming, including the Science Learning Tent at the 116th Arlee Celebration Powwow, which will take place Thursday through Saturday, July 3-5.

The Bright Lights Award honors U.S. science centers, children’s museums and natural history museums that excel at engaging with their local communities through STEM outreach activities. SpectrUM and the Flathead Reservation are one of nine nationwide museum partnerships recognized with this prestigious award. Nearly 100 partners applied for the recognition. The award carries a cash prize.

The annual Arlee Celebration Powwow serves as a cultural highlight for the three tribes on the reservation, and for visitors from around the country. The Science Learning Tent will feature interactive exhibits from spectrUM’s museum; hands-on science activities led by local “near-peer” high school students and college interns in the Confederated Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai TribesTribal Health Department’s Healthcare Warriors Camp program; and guided demonstrations with STEM leaders and role models from the Flathead Reservation and from UM.

Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, each day of the Science Learning Tent will include a different theme. The schedule is:

  • Thursday, July 3: health sciences and careers
  • Friday, July 4: environmental sciences and careers
  • Saturday, July 5: innovation and robotics

Tent hours will be from noon to 7 p.m. each day. The Science Learning Tent will culminate with an Astronomy Family Science Night from 9 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 5.

SpectrUM’s Flathead Reservation Community Advisory Group members provide a diversity of expertise and cultural perspectives. Its partners include Tribal Health and Human Services, Ronan Elementary School, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Wildlife Management Program and Salish Kootenai College.

To date, spectrUM has served more than 6,000 students on the Flathead Reservation. With this award, the museum and spectrUM’s Flathead Reservation Community Advisory Group plan to bring hands-on science exhibitions to every school on the reservation annually; provide a free field-trip bus to transport students from the reservation to spectrUM’s Missoula museum; and offer competitive mini-grants to reservation schools for innovative, culturally appropriate STEM programming.

Committed to inspiring a culture of learning and discovery for all, the spectrUM Discovery Area is an interactive science center located in the heart of downtown Missoula. Annually, spectrUM serves more than 50,000 Montanans through in-museum and mobile programming. Since 2006, its educators have driven more than 26,245 miles to bring exhibitions and programs to 65 different schools in 25 Montana counties and all seven Montana Indian reservations. All together the mobile science programs have served more than 38,879 people, 30 percent of whom are Native American and 75 percent of whom are from rural communities.

SpectrUM’s sponsors and partners include SciGirls, NISE Network, Western Montana Area Health Education Center, the Noyce Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Program. Its Science for All Scholarship Fund has given the gift of science to more than 17,000 Montana children.

The spectrUM Discovery Area Downtown, located at 218 E. Front St. in Missoula, is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Admission costs $3.50 per person. Teachers or schools interested in booking a field trip to the spectrUM museum or would like to arrange a stop on spectrUM’s mobile tour can call 406-728-STEM.

The 116th annual Arlee Celebration will take place Wednesday through Sunday, July 2-6. For more information about the powwow, please visit http://www.arleepowwow.com/index.html.

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Contact: Holly Truitt, director of spectrUM, 406-243-4872, holly.truitt@umontana.edu.