September 2023

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Welcome to Brainstorms!, the monthly e-newsletter of the MSU Science Math Resource Center. We share cool opportunities for Montana STEM educators of all grade levels, subjects and settings, including upcoming professional development workshops through MSU and our partners; grant applications and STEM resources; STEM events and contests for students; and more. 

Please forward to a colleague and encourage them to subscribe – including your school administrators and school counselors, too! For questions or ideas, contact the MSU Science Math Resource Center.

Join us for MSU Research in Action Oct. 4

Online workshop features MSU engineer who studies fluid dynamics


Montana middle and high school science teachers are invited to attend a free workshop on Thursday, May 25, 2023 from 4pm to 5pm called MSU Research in Action.  


The workshop is part of a monthly series hosted by the MSU Science Math Resource Center. Each monthly Research in Action workshop features a Montana State University STEM researcher. You will not only hear about the work they do, but you will hear about their own STEM pathway. We will then have facilitated discussion to think about how you can bring the information into the classroom. The May workshop is the final of the 2022-23 school year and features Sarah Morris, assistant professor in the Norm Asjbornson College of Engineering.

Morris received her PhD in mechanical engineering from Cornell University and recently received an MSU faculty excellence grant for "Training and computational resources to analyze microgravity experiments aboard the International Space Station." Her photography of vortex formation around an Olympic-class sailboat won the 2020 Australasian Fluid Mechanics Society photo competition, and she recently presented "Visualizing Flows Around Us" to middle school students at MSU's STEAM Day: From the milk mixing in our coffee to the air flows made by coughing, speaking and breathing, we can find fluid dynamics all around us! Learn about the art of flow visualization by taking images of different fluid flows in the Experimental Fluids Research Laboratory.


Teachers can earn 1 OPI renewal unit for participating. Registration is limited to 30 participants.   


More info and the link to register is here.  

Recordings of past workshops are also on the SMRC Professional Development web page. you have any students at MSU this fall? Please connect them to the Science Math Resource Center

Your students can be connected right off the bat to cool STEM opportunities (even if they don't major in STEM), including our new Science Olympiad club, jobs and internships, citizen science and other volunteer opportunities.

Send their email addresses to [email protected] and we will send a special welcome from MSU. We are here to make SMRC their home away from home at MSU!

Welcome to Lateefat Sanni!

Lateefat Sanni is an MSU graduate student in Curriculum and Instruction who recently joined as a graduate assistant in the Science Math Resource Center. She's responsible for the STEM Lending Library and other education and outreach. She holds a bachelor's degree in science education from the University of Ilorin in Nigeria. After graduation, Lateefat has served in different organizations as an educationist and a curriculum developer. Her focus is on the intersection of using technological tools to aid and improve teaching and learning in society. Beyond her academic pursuits, she loves to watch soccer and movies. If you are in Reid Hall, stop by and say hello to Lateefat!

Announcing: Science Olympiad 2024 dates

Science Olympiad is one of Montana's premier STEM competitions with opportunities to focus on dozens of topics and excel with a partner as well as a team representing your school. But participating in the annual Science Olympiad tournament is much more than the tournament itself -- we also offer STEM Night at the Museum of the Rockies; Talks & Tours of MSU's labs, studios and classrooms; and the chance to hang out at MSU and enjoy the college vibe for a day.

2024 tournament is Friday, April 19 at MSU

Learn more on our website (registration opens soon)

Subscribe to our coaches' newsletter here

STEM opportunities for educators

Interested in e-textiles?

A colleague from Utah State University does some really cool stuff in the ed tech/STEM space. and is looking to connect with any grade 3-6 teachers in Montana who might be interested in e-textiles and computer science/computational thinking.

Visit her project page and check out Project ESTITCH and Project STITCH.

If you are interested in connecting with her, please email MSU associate professor Nick Lux, and tell him you read about it in Brainstorms!

Montana teachers: Are you the next Einstein Fellow?

The Einstein Fellowship is an 11-month opportunity for K-12 STEM teachers to come to Washington, DC to inform federal policy. Current Fellows are serving on Capitol Hill, Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Library of Congress, NASA, NSF and other agencies.

Fellows spend eleven months working in a Federal agency or in a Congressional office. After the Fellowship, these exemplary STEM educators transfer their experiences into new ways to teach students and engage colleagues.

Fellows receive:

  • A monthly living stipend of $8,200/month.
  • A travel allowance of up to $5,000 for approved travel related to their host agencies and approved professional development opportunities.
  • An education allowance of up to $1,000 for approved educational expenses aligned with the Fellows’ individual professional development plans.
  • Reimbursement for moving/relocations expenses up to $3,500 for Fellows relocating from outside of the Washington, DC, area.
  • Einstein Fellows are eligible to receive a stipend of up to $550 per month (individual plan) or $1,300 per month (family plan) to offset the cost of health insurance.

Applications are open until Nov. 16

Visit the website or contact program officer Jill Latchana at [email protected]

High School Teachers: Registration Now Open for FREE Classroom Observatory Online Course

Montana Learning Center and MSU offer a free, non-credit online course for high school teachers interested in using a state-of-the-art robotic telescope and integrating image-capturing and research capabilities into their curriculum. High school teachers in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington are eligible.

This course gives teachers and their students unprecedented access to a world-class research facility, and teachers will learn how to use the observatory and capture images for student projects.

The course runs Oct. 2 - Nov. 23 and is online.

The course provides up to 30 OPI renewal units and is taught by Ryan Hannahoe and Peter Detterline of the Montana Learning Center. It is supported by NASA's Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pathways program.

Visit the registration page for more information or contact [email protected]

Last chance to learn about competency-based learning and earn free MSU graduate credits this fall - just a few slots remain!

In April 2021, the Montana Legislature approved funding to strengthen the preparation of the state’s educators to understand and implement proficiency-based/competency-based education. One of the ways to do this is by offering undergraduate and graduate level courses at NO COST. That’s right, no cost to you.

In-service teachers and school leaders can take EDU 591 Competency-Based Education at NO CHARGE. CBE includes personalized, mastery, project-based, and blended and/or virtual teaching/ learning. This course will introduce future and practicing educators to these various teaching/learning modalities and prepare educators to compete for employment in these schools and districts or prepare educators to implement these modalities in their own classes/districts.

EDU 591 begins Oct. 16. You must register ahead of time, so express your interest now.

Fill out the interest form here and you will be sent information on how to register for free.

Neuroscience Citizen Science resources available for free download

Engage your middle school students in two neuroscience-related citizen science projects while they learn about the eye, the brain, and diseases of the nervous system while contributing to authentic neuroscience research themselves! No experience is required; our tutorial video will walk you through how to join the projects.

This project was created by our SMRC science communications intern Chloe Moreland and funded by a seed grant from the MSU Outreach & Engagement Council.

Access the free resources or for more citizen science, visit our MSU Citizen Science Network page.

Are you ready for the solar eclipse on Oct. 14?

Even though Montana will not be in the path of totality, everyone in the 48 contiguous United States will be treated to a PARTIAL solar eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023. This is an excellent time to take advantage of the many resources from NASA and other educational sources.

American Mathematics Competitions coming in November

Keep your eye out for the AMC 10/12 contests that will be hosted at MSU in November. The American Mathematics Competitions are a series of examinations and curriculum materials that build problem-solving skills and mathematical knowledge. Read more on our AMC page and sign up to be notified of this and other opportunities.

Do you know a Montana STEM teacher interested in cool opportunities? Please share this newsletter so they can follow along for next year. Or, they can subscribe at