SpectrUM, Ravalli County Museum Announce Free Field Trips for Schools

April 27, 2015

HAMILTON K-12 students in the Bitterroot Valley will have a chance to explore the ins and outs of nanoscience this spring thanks to a partnership between the University of Montana’s spectrUM Discovery Area and the Ravalli County Museum and Historical Society. 

The organizations have teamed up to host free field trips for Bitterroot Valley schools to spectrUM’s “Nano: The Science of Small” exhibit at the museum on Thursdays, May 14, 21, 28 and June 4. 

The Thursday, May 7, grand opening of the exhibit marks the launch of the Summer of Science initiative, a three-year collaboration to foster a robust science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning ecosystem in the Bitterroot Valley. In addition to free field trips, the project will include Thursday night lectures featuring UM researchers and Science Saturdays with hands-on activities and demonstrations in Bitterroot Valley communities. All activities will be free and open the public.

“Ravalli County Museum has a focus on educational and experiential programming in our underserved area,” said Director Tamar Stanley. “This is a rare opportunity to host an interactive STEM learning exhibit for the summer. It will surely generate curiosity about the world around us, seen and unseen, and how it shapes our daily lives.” 

Created by the Minnesota Science Museum, “Nano: The Science of Small” engages visitors with hands-on science and career pathways in nanoscience, the study of structures and materials on the scale of nanometers. At the exhibit, visitors can build a giant carbon nanotube, “balance our nano future” on a tippy table and learn how medical researchers use nanotechnology to fight cancer.

Field trip activities will include using magnets to explore how material behaves differently at different sizes and building a carbon nanotube with foam construction pieces. Field trips are tailored for grades K-12 and are designed to meet state science standards.

“At spectrUM, we are in the business of inspiring the next generation of students to pursue higher education and career opportunities in STEM fields,” said Holly Truitt, spectrUM director. “We can think of no better place to build a deep community partnership than in the Bitterroot and with the museum.”

The public can visit the “Nano” exhibit at the Ravalli County Museum, located at 205 Bedford St. in Hamilton, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free on Thursdays and Saturdays. The rest of the week, admission is $1 for children, students and seniors, and $3 for adults.

The Summer of Science initiative primarily is underwritten by the Jane S. Heman Foundation. Additional sponsors include UM, the Elliot and Grace Lander Foundation, the Bitterroot Quilters’ Guild, NISE Net, and the UM Center for Environmental and Health Sciences. 

Since 1974, the Ravalli County Museum and Historical Society has produced innovative and engaging exhibits that provide enrichment to the public. The museum’s diverse collections create an ideal environment to discover and explore.

Inspiring a culture of learning and discovery for all, spectrUM Discovery Area is an interactive science center located in the heart of downtown Missoula. SpectrUM serves more than 50,000 Montanans annually through in-museum and mobile programs.

SpectrUM’s Missoula museum is located at 218 E. Front St. and is open to the public 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Admission costs $3.50 per person.

Teachers in the Bitterroot Valley can book free field trips while availability lasts by calling spectrUM program manager Jessie Herbert at 406-207-1010. Additional days for field trips may be available upon request. Need-based funding for field trip buses also is available for schools.

Contact: Hannah Motl Gimpel, community engagement and business coordinator, spectrUM Discovery Area, 406-243-4828, hannah.gimpel@umontana.edu; Tamar Stanley, director, Ravalli County Museum, 406-232-3338, tamarsrcm@qwestoffice.net.