Dear Friends of the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative Project...
We haven't checked in for a while, but have lots of exciting news to share! If you have an event or project you'd like to share, please contact us using the information in the footer. We are happy to continue supporting STEM for girls in Montana. Thanks for being part of our team!

Montana Girls STEM Joins Give Big Gallatin Valley  
 
On  Tuesday May 5 , the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative is participating in Give Big Gallatin Valley, Gallatin County's Largest Day of Giving. 

For 24 hours only, you can visit http://GiveBigGV.org make a donation (min. $10) to Montana Girls STEM, and every dollar you donate will be stretched by a Match Pool of Funds from the Bozeman Area Community Foundation and their presenting sponsors. PLUS, there's an additional pot of funds for prizes through out the day we can win just from your donation!

You don't even have to live in Gallatin County to support Montana Girls STEM Collaborative on this day. Mark your calendars, Tell your Friends, Give Big. More info at http://www.GiveBigGV.org

Changes in the National Girls Collaborative Project
New directions for NGCP
 
The Montana Girls STEM Collaborative is one of many state/regional collaboratives that are part of the original National Girls Collaborative Project. NGCP has operated for 12 years, and has been supported with funding from the National Science Foundation. As the NSF funding comes to a close, NGCP is taking some new directions. Below is some information from Karen Peterson, CEO of NGCP:

The National Girls Collaborative is now established as a "new" non-profit (new, but with many years of experience!). We will continue our NSF-funded work under the fiscal sponsorship of the Afterschool Alliance; they have been a great partner and supporter to NGCP through this exciting transition. We are continuing to partner with others on a wide variety of grants and projects. There are a number of states who are working on applications to join our community. 

In the Spring of 2014, after more than twelve years of operation, and given the growth and success of NGCP, staff and stakeholders participated in a strategic visioning process focused on determining the best options for expanding program delivery and broadening the impact of this important work. We have ample evidence of the NGCP's effectiveness and evaluation results are clear about the immense value and comprehensiveness of the NGCP model. To date, NGCP's growth has been supported with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and our goals and activities have been limited to those identified within NSF grants. Data collected through the strategic visioning process has indicated that for NGCP to continue to provide more innovative network support and programming, it is now time to establish development efforts that include contributed revenue from individual donors, private foundations, and corporations. This funding strategy will allow us to become more nimble and responsive to the needs of the women and girls in STEM programs across the country. 
Collaboration Conference Huge Success  
Montana Girls STEM board member Melanie Magee and Valerie Martinez of Helena College served on a panel at the Fall Collaboration Conference.

 

The Montana Girls STEM Fall Collaboration Conference in Helena was a huge success! The event was held on Nov. 7th at Helena College, which also hosted its annual Women in Gear event (hands-on STEM for 8th grade and high school girls) the following day.

 

We maxed our capacity of 75 participants, and-with extra speakers-ended up with about 85 people in all. We had several placements in the media, as well: 

Helena conference encourages girls to pursue STEM careers (Helena Independent Record, Nov. 2014)

http://helenair.com/news/local/conference-encourages-girls-to-pursue-stem-careers/article_0295114b-a95c-56a9-a356-07ca32e2456b.html

Helena STEM Conference Promotes Women In Science (Montana Public Radio, November 2014)

http://mtpr.org/post/helena-stem-conference-promotes-women-science

We were especially pleased to include speakers First Lady Lisa Bullock (who is also a member of our champions board) and Lieutenant Governor Angela McLean, both of whom gave inspiring talks about the importance of women in STEM. MSU psychology professor Jessi Smith, who is a member of the National Girls Collaborative Project's national champions board, presented a fascinating keynote talk. Many Montana Girls STEM board members participated as panelists, moderators and participants, and several mini-grant recipients were also present. 

Corporate sponsors included A2Z Staffing Solutions, BlueCross BlueShield of Montana, Boeing, ExxonMobil, JML Strategy, the Montana Institute on Ecosystems, Montana NSF EPSCoR, MSU Extended University, Northrop Grumman, NorthWestern Energy and Xerox. Suzi Taylor and Jan Lombardi were conference co-chairs.

MGSCP Leadership Team Profile
Jan Lombardi is a champion for STEM education and education policy

 

Jan Lombardi is a member of the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative champions board. Jan is owner of JML Strategy, an education policy-consulting firm. As a third-generation Montanan, Lombardi began her career in banking and finance on the East Coast before returning to the Big Sky state in 1988 with her husband and two young children to care for her grandmother. She has thirty-six years of experience working in government, non-profit, and business sectors, including serving as the Education Policy Advisor and Director of the Governor's Office of Community Service for Governor Brian Schweitzer. 


 
Lombardi's work in Montana's nonprofit and public sectors has resulting in lasting change in service delivery and policy for children and families from cradle to career. Lombardi was key in helping to pass full-time kindergarten in the Montana Legislature, something she considers a crowning achievement for children today and for future generations. 


 
Jan's lifetime interest in the sciences includes geeky moments of saving babysitting money to buy a microscope and slides while in middle school. Jan now focuses her enthusiasm for STEM in the kitchen, testing new recipes and tastes on family and friends and takes ceramics classes to rediscover long-gone chemistry skills while mixing in a bit of creativity.

 

She credits women teachers and other mentors for encouraging her to be unabashedly inquisitive and to never stop learning. She is passionate about empowering young women to successfully pursue their goals and dreams. In addition to serving on the Champion Board for the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative since its inception in 2012, Jan's commitment to volunteering and giving back is evident in her service on numerous other boards: Helena College Foundation, Montana Afterschool Alliance, Montana Conservation Corps, Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, and the Corporation for National and Community Service's National Civilian Community Corps Advisory Board.

MSU Computer Science Department Leading the Way
New initiatives support all students' success in CS
 
Bozeman High School senior Lillie Hawkins and junior Hugh Jackovich use the computer coding language Python to program a graphic based on the game "Minecraft." The dual-credit course was co-taught by John Paxton, head of Montana State University's Computer Science Department, at center, as part of an effort to boost the number of Montana students on the computer science career track. MSU Photo by Sepp Jannotta.
Nationwide, there is a shortage of people with computer science skills and knowledge.  Furthermore, more computer scientists are needed to help solve many of the world's most pressing problems.  These problems are far ranging and include health care, the environment and urban infrastructure.  Despite the opportunities for in-demand, well paying, meaningful careers, women earned only 14% of the Computer Science bachelor's degrees in 2013-2014.  Studies repeatedly show that diverse teams develop superior solutions to problems.  Thus, it is critical that more women enter the computing profession.

To make computer science more broadly appealing, the Computer Science Department at Montana State University has embarked on several initiatives.  One initiative is to find sponsorships to send female Computer Science majors and graduate students to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference.  In October, 13 of our female students joined an additional 8000 attendees from industry and academia to learn and network in Phoenix.  After attending, one attendee stated "It was a life changing experience that changed my perspectives, expanded my network, and made me feel truly thrilled to be a part of the technology industry."  Our department's goal for the 2015 conference in Houston is to find sponsorship for all of our second year women.

A second initiative is to remodel our student spaces to reflect the collaborative nature of our discipline.  In February 2014 we opened a newly remodeled, aesthetically appealing, Japanese-themed computer lab that is open 24/7 and serves as a tutoring center where students can seek help from other students.  The Japanese-theme was chosen because it underscores both the international and interdisciplinary nature of computer science.  In addition, many of our students choose to minor in Japanese Studies!  

For more information on this initiative, see this MSU News Article.

A third initiative is to provide high school students with a better understanding of computer science.  To this end, we piloted a course entitled "The Joy and Beauty of Computing" at Bozeman High School during Spring Semester 2014.  25 enthusiastic students learned how computing can improve the human condition, how computational thinking skills can benefit one's career and life, and how to solve problems with the Python programming language.  By the end of the course, students could use Python to draw pictures for MineCraft, compose music and create health apps.  This year, nearly 100 students are enrolled at Bozeman High and the course has been picked up by five additional high schools as well as the Montana Digital Academy.  

For more information on the Joy and Beauty of Computing Initiative, see this MSU News Article.

Computer Science is a discipline that requires creativity and problem solving skills.  Computer Scientists have dramatically changed our world  (think Google, Facebook and smart phones) and will continue to do so in the future (think the Internet of Things, Smart Everything and Personal Robots).  Because computer scientists are helping invent the future, we need everyone to participate.  Please consider learning more and being a change agent!
What's Happening
News, Opportunities, and Events in Montana  

Begins April 14th. Helena. Weekly SciGirls Program. Join SciGirls at ExplorationWorks! where girls in grades 4-6 will build confidence in science with fun and fabulous challenges. These hands-on, minds-on activities will stretch your creativity and problem-solving. This program is proudly sponsored by Opportunity Bank of Montana and is a 6-week after school program on Tuesdays starting April 14th. 

April 19th, Bozeman. Astronomy & Aerospace Day - An afternoon of space science activities, lectures, demonstrations and more. Museum of the Rockies. http://eu.montana.edu/astronomyday

April 25th. Billings. Chicks in Science. A one-day science extravaganza that provides hands-on, minds-on interactive activities to introduce girls in 4th - 8th grades to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math; to encourage and excite them to pursue education in those areas; and to facilitate relationships between the girls and professional women in scientific disciplines.  http://www.msubillings.edu/chicks/

April 25th. Missoula. Expanding your Horizons. A day of STEM career exploration for girls in grades 6, 7, and 8. Participants will engage in hands-on workshops in science technology, engineering, and math (STEM) led by female scientists, engineers, and technology specialists.

May 2nd. Missoula. Engineer That, Girl. Join the Girl Scouts for Missoula's premier girls-only engineering expo. Women engineers from Missoula are bringing all their 'tricks of the trade' to share with Girl Scouts and their Friends. Come enjoy activities that test your mettle with a focus on environmental, structural, chemical, and computer engineering. For grades 2-8. Register at:  http://gsmw.org/calendar/events/index.php?com=detail&eID=1675. 

May 9th, Billings. Jane Bond at the Audubon -- become a Nature Spy! 10am- Noon; grades K-8. AND Nature Knockout at the Audubon (1pm to 3pm, grades K-8) sponsored by Girl Scouts of Montana & Wyoming. See all upcoming Girl Scout events at  http://gsmw.org/calendar/events/

Month of May. Missoula. SciGirls Technovation After School Club. A partnership of SpectrUM and Girl Scouts, this club focuses on technology - robotics, digital movie making, banana pianos, 3D printing, and more! Be a part of this awesomely inclusive science club for girls! Try new experiments each week, meet new friends, explore the museum, and have a gigawatt of fun! Register at  http://gsmw.org/calendar/events/index.php?com=detail&eID=1687. 


Have a STEM event to share with our readers?  

E-mail Suzi Taylor at taylor@montana.edu