SpectrUM, Ravalli County Museum Kick off ‘Summer of Science’

May 12, 2015

MISSOULA – Community members of all ages celebrated the grand opening of the University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area’s “Nano: The Science of Small” May 7 at the Ravalli County Museum and Historical Society in Hamilton.

“Nano” engages visitors with hands-on science and career pathways in nanoscience, the study of structures and materials on the scale of nanometers. The grand-opening celebration featured a liquid nitrogen ice cream bar, hands-on experiments and a prize wheel.

The exhibit opening marked the launch of spectrUM’s collaborative, three-year initiative to foster a robust science, technology, engineering and math – known as STEM – learning ecosystem in the Bitterroot Valley. Funded by the Jane S. Heman Foundation, the initiative will bring Summer of Science events to Bitterroot Valley communities through 2017.

“We’re honored to have this opportunity to collaborate and co-create with our partners in the Bitterroot as part of our ongoing efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps in STEM and higher education for Montana’s next generation,” said spectrUM director Holly Truitt.

In the past year, spectrUM earned two national awards for its leadership in community-based STEM engagement, one through the Noyce Foundation’s Bright Lights competition and the other from MIT’s Science Festival Alliance.

This year’s Summer of Science events at the Ravalli County Museum include:

  • Science Saturdays: Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., May 9 to Aug. 22, children and families are invited to roll up their sleeves and engage in guided science activities, with rotating weekly themes including slime, jitterbugs, astronomy, robot mania, liquid nitrogen and many more. 

  • Thursday Night Lectures: Geared toward high-school and adult community members, this free lecture series will include UM professor Garon Smith’s “Magic from Middle Earth” on May 14; UM graduate student Daniel Eacker’s “Elk Calf Survival and Elk Population Dynamics in the Southern Bitterroot Valley” on May 28; UM graduate student Sharon Bywater-Reyes’ “River Systems” on July 9, and UM graduate students Kevin Trout and Forrest Jessop’s “Nanomaterials and Health” on July 23. Lectures will begin at 6 p.m.

During the academic year, the initiative will continue bringing spectrUM’s mobile science exhibits to K-12 schools throughout the Bitterroot. All Summer of Science events are free and open to the public.

Additional Summer of Science sponsors include UM, the Elliott and Grace Lander Foundation, the Bitterroot Quilters’ Guild, NISE Net and the 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.

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 costs $1 for children, students and seniors and $3 for adults.

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.

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.