HAMILTON – Bitterroot children, families and community members are invited to the inaugural Bitterroot Maker Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 6, in the Bitterroot College Gymnasium, located at 103 S. Ninth St. in Hamilton. The event is free and open to the public.
A partnership between the University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area and Bitterroot College, the Bitterroot Maker Fair will feature hands-on activities, including circuitry, rocket building and robotics.
Other activities will include the Bitterroot FabLab, part of Bitterroot College, hosting live demonstrations of 3-D printing and laser engraving, the UM Office of Autonomous Aerial Systems leading interactive drone demonstrations and local makers and entrepreneurs sharing their products and creations.
The Bitterroot Maker Fair is the capstone to a yearlong spectrUM initiative powered by the Martin Family Foundation to embed making and tinkering experiences in Hamilton and Corvallis schools. Throughout the school year, a cohort of fifth-grade teachers and librarians from Daly Elementary and Corvallis Middle School co-facilitated hands-on making activities in their classrooms and libraries alongside spectrUM museum manager Nick Wethington.
As part of their ongoing professional development throughout the year, participating teachers completed a two-day Making Institute at the Stock Farm Club this fall with a guest expert from the Science Museum of Minnesota. Members of the cohort also joined spectrUM for professional development at Gov. Steve Bullock’s Innovate Montana Symposium last summer and at the Scott Family Amazeum’s Tinkerfest in Bentonville, Arizona, in October.
Corvallis Middle School librarian Vic Mortimer, a member of the teacher cohort, said, “As a school librarian who wants to make the library into a space where students and teachers have an open invitation to make, tinker and collaborate in trying out new ideas, I am thrilled with how thoroughly this project has captured the imagination of students and teachers.”
This initiative is part of the UM Broader Impacts Group’s larger effort with the Martin Family Foundation and a Bitterroot community advisory group to help get K-12 students on the fast track to higher education and fulfilling careers by aligning educational experiences with the real workforce development strengths and priorities in the Bitterroot. The project’s programming includes role-model engagement, hands-on mobile science exhibits and making and tinkering experiences.
“We’re delighted to be partnering with the Martin Family Foundation, our community advisory group and Bitterroot schools on this collective-impact effort to inspire children about the bright futures that await them in STEM, entrepreneurship and the work force,” said Holly Truitt, director of the Broader Impacts Group and spectrUM. “With our local partners, we’re committed to inspiring students about the full range of career pathways that are open to them here in the Bitterroot, whether through apprenticeships in trades, two- or four-year college degrees, or graduate and professional degrees.”
Committed to inspiring a culture of learning and discovery for all, UM’s spectrUM Discovery Area serves more than 55,000 Montanans annually through in-museum and mobile programs. SpectrUM is part of the UM Broader Impacts Group, which harnesses UM’s research and creative scholarship to educate and inspire the people of Montana, especially the next generation.
For more information, call spectrUM and Broader Impacts Group Director Holly Truitt at 406-243-4872 or Broader Impacts Group Associate Director of Finance Hannah Motl Gimpel at 406-459-2447.