SpectrUM to Host Science and Tech Festival at Salish Kootenai College May 19

May 15, 2018

MISSOULA – Children and their families on the Flathead Reservation are invited to the first-ever Science and Tech Festival from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at Salish Kootenai College’s Joe McDonald Center in Pablo. The event is free and open to the public.

The Science and Tech Festival is part of a collective-impact effort by the UM Broader Impacts Group (BIG) and its spectrUM Discovery Area, Salish Kootenai College, K-12 schools on the Flathead Reservation and Tech4Good, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education.

The event will feature Rube Goldberg machines developed by middle-school students from Arlee, Two Eagle River, Hot Springs, and Dixon schools.

“It’s amazing to watch students’ minds work,” said Beau Herman, a teacher in Hot Springs who partnered with spectrUM on the project. “You can actually see the gears shifting when they step back and look at a problem they are having with one cause and effect on their Rube Goldberg device. Then when they figure it out, there is that ‘Ah Ha!’ moment, and it brings it all together.”

Visitors to the festival also will explore interactive exhibits and hands-on activities led by spectrUM, Tribal Education, Flathead Lake Biological Station, role models with BIG’s “We Are Montana in the Classroom” initiative and students from Salish Kootenai College.

The CSKT Education Department will host beading and drum-making activities and will lead tours through the Kwul ‘I’tkin Maker Truck, a mobile, cultural makerspace co-created by spectrUM, SciNation and the tribes with funding from the National Science Foundation.

SpectrUM, its SciNation advisory group and the tribes collaborate on an array of programs designed to foster a homegrown, Native STEM workforce on the Flathead Reservation. In addition to the Science and Tech Festival, their year-round programming includes a Science Learning Tent at the Arlee Celebration and Elmo’s Standing Arrow Powwow, “Science Bytes” that embed hands-on STEM activities and role models at summer free-meal sites, in-school field trips and community family science nights and the Kwul ’I’tkin Maker Truck.

SpectrUM and SciNation’s community-based, collective-impact approach has garnered awards from the Montana Indian Education Association, the Noyce Foundation, the Simons Foundation and the Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science.

“Through collective-impact work with SciNation, the tribes, local K-12 schools and other STEM and higher education champions on the Flathead Reservation, we’re helping put students on the fast track to fulfilling careers in their home communities and beyond,” said spectrUM and BIG director Holly Truitt. “By co-creating with the local community, we’re collectively accomplishing what no single organization could on its own.”

Now in its 10th year, spectrUM Discovery Area is UM’s hands-on science center, serving more than 200,000 Montanans annually through in-museum and statewide mobile programming. SpectrUM is part of BIG, which harnesses the University’s research and creative scholarship to foster social mobility and a vibrant, homegrown workforce for Montana.

BIG and spectrUM are supported by an array of local and national funding sources, including the National Science Foundation, Montana NSF EPSCoR, NASA, the U.S. Department of Education, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Jane S. Heman Foundation and the Martin Family Foundation.

In Missoula, the public can visit spectrUM’s museum at 812 Toole Ave. from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission costs $3.50 per person.

More information about spectrUM’s engagement on the Flathead Reservation is online at http://spectrum.umt.edu/education/FlatheadIndRes.php.  For more information or to book a school visit, call Jessie Herbert-Meny, spectrUM’s head of educational programs, at 406-243-4828 or visit http://www.spectrum.umt.edu.


Contact: Jessie Herbert-Meny, , head of educational programs, spectrUM Discovery Area, 406-243-482, jessie.herbert@umontana.edu.