HAMILTON – Children, families and community members are invited to the third annual Bitterroot Maker Fair from 12 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, in the Bitterroot College Gymnasium at 103 S. Ninth St. in Hamilton. The event is free and open to the public.
The fair creates on-ramps for K-12 students to learn more about locally relevant careers, including sectors such as manufacturing, health care, biotechnology and trades.
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 Hamilton Middle School. Visitors can make and take home jigsaw puzzles, learn about electricity and conductivity with the popular Makey Makey circuit board and take silly photos using forced perspective photography.
The college’s FabLab will host live demonstrations of 3-D printing and laser engraving, and staff from Missoula Public Library’s makerspace will showcase their CNC machine and opportunities for making and tinkering at the library.
Visitors also will meet local makers and learn about local career pathways and opportunities for learners of all ages at Bitterroot College. Students from Hamilton Middle School’s SciGirls Code Club will demonstrate the robots they designed and programmed. Students from local Science Olympiad teams will share about their activities and upcoming participation at a national level.
The fair is the capstone event of spectrUM’s year-round Making and Tinkering in the Bitterroot initiative powered by the Martin Family Foundation. The initiative embeds hands-on science engagement in Hamilton and Corvallis schools.
For the third year in a row, a cohort of fifth grade teachers and librarians from Hamilton Middle School and Corvallis Middle School co-facilitated hands-on making activities in their classrooms and libraries throughout the school year alongside spectrUM Making and Tinkering Programs Manager Nick Wethington. Participating teachers receive ongoing professional development training, a curriculum book co-developed by spectrUM and K-12 teachers, and supplies.
“This is my first year where I am fully involved with making and tinkering being in my school,” said Kristi Rodriguez, a media specialist at Hamilton Middle School. “I love getting to know the kids in a different way. Some kids who struggle with the academics of school thrive in this making scenario. Their contribution to their classmates is one that lets them shine.”
SpectrUM’s Making and Tinkering in the Bitterroot Initiative is part of a larger effort with local K-12 schools and community organizations, as well as the Martin Family Foundation and the Jane S. Heman Foundation, to put Bitterroot K-12 students on the fast track to educational opportunities.
For more information, call Wethington at 406-243-4828.