SpectrUM and Bitterroot College to Host Bitterroot Maker Fair on May 4

May 01, 2018

MISSOULA – Bitterroot children, families and community members are invited to the second annual Bitterroot Maker Fair from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 4, 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 activities and artifacts created by fifth-grade students from Corvallis Middle School and Daly Elementary School. Visitors can play with robots, learn about electricity, make a rocket powered only by a bouncy ball and explore modular circuit kits made by community fifth-graders.

The Bitterroot FabLab, part of Bitterroot College, will host live demonstrations of 3D printing and laser engraving. Visitors also can meet local makers and learn about career pathways in the Bitterroot, as well as opportunities at Bitterroot College for learners of all ages. The Missoula Public Library Makerspace also will showcase its new Computer Numeric Control machine and the learning opportunities available through its programs.

The Bitterroot Maker Fair is one programming highlight of a year-round, collective impact effort powered by the Martin Family Foundation to inspire K-12 students about educational and career pathways in their community.

“With our community advisory group, K-12 schools and local partners, UM’s spectrUM Discovery Area and Broader Impacts Group are creating collective impact designed to foster social mobility and put our next generation on the fast track to fulfilling careers,” said Holly Truitt, director of spectrUM and BIG.

As part of these efforts, a cohort of elementary teachers and librarians from Daly Elementary and Corvallis Middle School co-facilitated hands-on activities in their classrooms and libraries throughout the year alongside spectrUM Museum Manager Nick Wethington.

Corvallis Middle School librarian Vic Mortimer, a member of the teacher cohort, said he is continually amazed “at how thoroughly engaged the students are, especially those who often struggle in other settings.” Mortimer said, “Teachers are beginning to notice and to adapt activities and materials to their own uses, from light play in sixth- and seventh-grade language arts to zipline racers and hovercrafts in seventh- and eighth-grade DIY classes. The program has helped to spark student interest in STEAM activities and has made the library a very busy place.”

Daly Elementary School Principal Nate Lant said fifth-grade students at Daly Elementary have looked forward to Making and Tinkering Tuesdays more than any other day of the week for the past two years.

“The lessons and activities are stimulating, engaging and allow students to experience a strong sense of self-worth,” he said. The initiative, he added, promotes “higher-level thinking, problem solving and creativity.”

For more information about the Bitterroot Maker Fair, call Wethington or Broader Impacts Group Associate Director Nathalie Wolfram at 406-243-4828.

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Contact: Nathalie Wolfram, associate director, UM Broader Impacts Group, 406-243-4828, nathalie.wolfram@umontana.edu; Nick Wethington, making and tinkering educational specialist, spectrUM Discovery Area, 406-243-4828, nicholos.wethington@umontana.edu .