MISSOULA – The University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area will offer in-school Making and Tinkering Days with kindergarten and first-grade students at Corvallis Primary School on Monday, Feb. 12, and Wednesday, Feb. 28.
SpectrUM’s resident maker Nick Wethington will guide students in making bouncy rockets, an activity that uses everyday supplies like bouncy balls and cardboard, to engage students with physics and engineering concepts such as the conservation of energy.
Students will design, prototype and test their own take-home bouncy rocket and will explore different ways to launch their rockets and evaluate the results.
“Making and tinkering activities offer high-risk but low-stakes opportunities for children to experiment, be creative, fail without consequence and then try a new approach,” Wethington said. “This process builds students’ resilience and problem-solving skills, which are essential for success not only in education, but also in the 21st-century workforce.”
Corvallis Primary School’s Making and Tinkering Days are powered by the Greater Ravalli Foundation, which provided a one-to-one match for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) projects at the Corvallis Primary School, as well as by the Corvallis Schools Foundation, Corvallis School District, the Parents at Work in Corvallis Schools (PAWS) group and classroom sponsors.
“The Greater Ravalli Foundation is excited to partner with spectrUM and the Corvallis PAWS group to provide innovative exposure to STEAM projects at the primary school,” said Deb Gabelhausen, executive director of the Greater Ravalli Foundation.
“Primary school children often come to us with a wonderful sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness that we want to inspire and enhance,” said Lisa Nagel, principal of Corvallis Primary School. “We hope to boost this love of learning through these fun and engaging activities.”
SpectrUM and its parent organization, the UM Broader Impacts Group, are the backbone of a collective-impact effort in the Bitterroot that brings together K-12 schools, a cross-sector community advisory group and other community partners to build a seamless pipeline into higher education and fulfilling careers.
Powered by the Jane S. Heman Foundation and the Martin Family Foundation, these efforts include role-model engagement and making and tinkering programming that reflect the real workforce strengths and opportunities in the Bitterroot, including sectors like manufacturing, entrepreneurship and technology.
“By linking arm in arm with like-minded community partners, we’re creating transformative change that none of our organizations could accomplish on our own,” said spectrUM and BIG Director Holly Truitt. “In the Bitterroot, we’re particularly focused on closing a gap that that our advisory group, along with the Greater Ravalli Foundation, have identified between students’ passion for learning and exploring and the financial barriers that might prevent some of these students from continuing into postsecondary education and ultimately fulfilling careers.”
Now in its 10th year, spectrUM is UM’s hands-on science center that engages over 200,000 people annually in its Missoula museum, EmPower Place at Missoula Food Bank, and through statewide mobile programming. BIG harnesses the university’s research and creative scholarship to foster social mobility and a vibrant, homegrown workforce for Montana.
Children and families in the Missoula area can explore making and tinkering at spectrUM’s Jane S. Heman Foundation Makerspace in its museum at 812 Toole Ave. in Missoula from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5:30 pm on Saturdays. Admission costs $3.50 for everyone ages 4 and over and is free for children 3 and under. As part of the nationwide Museums for All Initiative, spectrUM offers free family memberships to EBT cardholders.