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2013 Montana STEM Educator Needs Assessment Survey Report

Wednesday December 18, 2013

During the Fall of 2013, we conducted a needs assessment survey of K-­-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educators in Montana. The primary purpose of the survey was to identify the educational needs of K-­-12 formal and informal STEM educators and collect information about schools or organizations that could be relevant to the implementation of teacher enhancement programs. The survey was completed by 213 STEM educators from 42 out of 56 counties in Montana. View the report.


2013 Montana Science Olympiad!!

By Irene Grimberg, Dec. 5 2013

Eggs falling from great heights? Unraveling a mysterious disease? Launching gliders? All of this happened at the annual 2013 Montana Science Olympiad hosted by MSU’s Science Math Resource Center on Tuesday, November 26, at MSU-Bozeman campus.

2013 Science OlympiadRoughly 1,400 students from 94 middle and high schools throughout Montana participated in the 2013 Montana’s Science Olympiad. The competition included twenty eight events related to science or engineering such as: building a cantilevered structure, identifying insects, constructing magnetically-levitated vehicles, identifying rocks and determining mineral hardness, and data analyses using the principles of genetics. Teams competed in either middle or high school division events, and the winning team of each division has the opportunity to participate in the national tournament, to be held on May 16-17, 2014 in Orlando, Florida.

This year, thanks to donations from members of the Bozeman community and the Montana Science Olympiad, the auditorium of the closing ceremony trembled with roars of joy when winning teams received $1,500 each to help with the expenses required to journey to Nationals. In addition, second-place teams received a gift from the Montana Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) to attend the 2014 MSGC Student Research Symposium to be held on Monday April 7, 2014 at MSU-Bozeman.

The Montana Science Olympiad is much more than a competition; it is an invitation to be immersed in the world of science and engineering in a fun and engaging way! A Fun Night launches the Montana Science Olympiad on the Monday evening prior to the tournament at the Museum of the Rockies. This year, 553 participants, including Olympians, coaches, and parents from 28 different schools in Montana, consumed 831 square feet of pizza, engaged with presenters and participated in activities.Thanks to Angela Weikert –Museum of the Rockies Education Director- and presenters, Montana Science Olympiad participants celebrated science with magic, Planetarium shows, live animals, hands-on activities, and impressive demonstrations of robotics, space engineering, architecture, anthropology, astronomy, and chemistry. The exhibits were open to the public, and as a parent said “ MOR is better than the Smithsonian museums in D.C.” in regards to the quality of the exhibits and programs.

At the 2013 Montana Science Olympiad, Olympians, coaches and parents had the chance to attend some of the 14 talks and tours that showcased cutting-edge research at Montana State University. Subzero Lab, High Altitude Balloon Lab, and Neuroscience Lab tours were packed with public eager to visit the facilities that make it possible to reach new frontiers. The physics of skis, sustainable agriculture, MSU Everest Expedition, honey bees, NASA’s new solar missions, how to train your robot, and turning scientists into filmmakers were some of the many talks that the audience enjoyed.

All of the activities, presentations, and events of Montana Science Olympiad resulted from the collective effort of about 100 volunteer MSU faculty, students and Bozeman community members. Their efforts plus the committed work of the Science Math Resource Center staff including: Bruna Irene Grimberg, Montana Science Olympiad State Director, Kiley Eversole, Montana Science Olympiad Coordinator, Jesse Hunter, Montana Science Olympiad Administrative Coordinator, Annie Mollock, Science Math Resource Center Administrator, and Sarah Hendrikx, Science Math Resource Center Data Analyst made this year’s Olympiad a great success.

Thank you Bozeman and MSU communities for your dedication and passion, it really makes a difference in the future of Montana and our kids!


Science Math Resource Center Receives Award from MSTA

Thursday October 17, 2013

On October 17th,  the Science Math Resource Center was happy to be honored by the Montana Science Teachers' Association at the MEA conference held in Belgrade, Montana.  The Science Math Resource Center received an award from MSTA for "Superior Achievement in Science Education for 2013" for qualities of innovation and creative teaching, content expertise, enthusiasm and leadership, which contribute to excellence in promoting science education in Montana.


Science Math Resource Center: Making Science Fun!

Saturday September 21, 2013

Annie Mollock, Jesse Hunter, Kiley Eversole, and Irene Grimberg represented the Science Math Resource Center and the Montana Science Olympiad at the Montana Science and Engineering Festival held on September 21 at Bobcat Stadium. In an effort to publicize the Montana Science Olympiad to the community and engage the public in science and engineering we had hands-on activities and flyers that explain what the Center does for STEM education in Montana, and volunteer opportunities offered by the Montana Science Olympiad. 235 people visited our booth to play with magnets, decipher optical illusions, and explore the intricacies of mass and inertia. The activities were very well received, and adults and kids both had fun. Teachers of the area requested resources for their classrooms, and many MSU students pledged to volunteer for the Montana Science Olympiad, on November 26 at our very own MSU campus! 

In addition to the Montana Science Olympiad booth the Science Math Resource Center along with faculty of Plant Science and Plant pathology, Land Resources and Environmental Science, College of Agriculture, and MSU-Extension had a booth to disseminate their research on integrated pest-management in crops. Together, we have a number of USDA grants to investigate multitrophic pest interactions and cropping system management.  The Science Math Resource Center is in charge of the educational component. At this booth sheep and microscopes greeted visitors and even children played virus and cells in a virus-tag game!!


Family Fun, Food, and Learning Night: Better than Christmas!!

Monday April 22, 2013

Photo of Family Fun and Learning nightThere is vast research supporting the idea that reading and parental engagement in school activities are critical factors to facilitate students' learning in ALL content areas. Moreover, reading or being read to during the summer months is very important to enhance or retain students' literacy level. Any reading material, and reading in any way -picture or text based books, and doing hands-on activities- is beneficial.  The important thing is that students pick their books!

The Science Math Resource Center in partnership with Hopa Mountain organized a powerful and transformative educator training to engage school students and their family in a Family Fun and Learning Night program.  Dr. Bonnie Sachatello-Sawyer, Hopa Mountain director, led the training focusing on: how to implement this family learning program in a school, storytelling and reading aloud-techniques, exploratory science-activities, and give-away books to children. Bonnie modeled a rock sorting activity inspired by the book "If You Find a Rock" by Peggy Christian and Barbara Hirsh Lember. Then teachers examined different ways to use this activity in their classroom, not only to address science content but also to reinforce reading comprehension and explore mathematical concepts. 

A picture astronomy book "There's No Place Like Space" by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz was introduced along with night observations and recording of moon phases.  Ideas to extend this hands on-reading aloud activities to parent conference settings or school family nights, such as Astronomy Night and Science Night, were also discussed. The teachers received lesson plan packages for the rock and astronomy programs with descriptions of activities for students, parents and students, tips for parents for reading aloud and literacy activities at home, a book list.  The training concluded with teachers picking books for their classrooms and their students including: rock books; books about the moon, night sky, and Sun; books about Spring, about dogs, and many more!!

If you want to receive the activity packages and /or the books please visit the Hopa Mountain website, or e-mail Bonnie: bsawyer@hopamountain.org. If you need assistant and ideas to implement these activities in your classroom, or during parent conferences or family nights please contact the Big Sky Science Partnership teachers: Tanya Anderson (Hardin Intermediate), Devon Flamm (Hardin Intermediate), Reba Strom (Hardin Elementary), Dorcella Plain Bull (Pretty Eagle), and Michelle Jefferson (Pretty Eagle).


Big Sky Science Partnership (BSSP) Teachers in the News!

Tuesday April 9, 2013

Little Big Horn News, a Hardin newspaper, made an article about BSSP teachers trip to the 2013 NSTA Conference in San Antonio, Texas. To read more please go to the story link.