The Montana Girls STEM Collaborative seeks to unite and support educators, parents, professionals and other champions of STEM so we can engage and inspire the next generation!
Montana biologist featured in photo collection that helps reframe what a scientist looks like
Kris Inman, a wildlife biologist from Ennis, Montana, was chosen as an IF/THEN Ambassador, a program designed to activate a culture shift among young girls to open their eyes to STEM careers. The program is part of Lyda Hill Philanthropies®' commitment to funding game-changing advancements in science and nature.

Photos of Kris are included in the new IF/THEN® Collection, a digital asset library of women STEM innovators, which helps reframe what a scientist looks like. Photos and other assets from the collection are available at no charge for educational and other noncommercial use. The IF/THEN® Collection is the largest free resource of its kind dedicated to increasing access to authentic and relatable images of real women in STEM.

Check out the IF/THEN Collection and learn more about Kris!
NGCP offers free STEM Webinars
Oct. 6, 3pm Mountain Time
Elevating Youth Voice in STEM Programming

Youth-centric programming is a hallmark of strong informal education practices. One way to ensure your program is youth-centric is to elevate youth voice and empower youth to take charge of their own STEM experiences. Join us to learn about the research behind youth-focused programming and to hear from two exemplary STEM programs that uplift and empower their youth.

Presenters will share their knowledge and first-hand experiences promoting or using their voices and developing leadership skills to support and promote STEM learning in their communities.

Oct. 13, 11am Mountain Time
(Registration closes Oct. 7)
Picture a Scientist: Bringing Gender Equity in Science to the Big Screen

Join the National Girls Collaborative Project for a panel discussion with the filmmakers of Picture a Scientist and one of the featured scientists from the film. Learn more about the origins of the film, the important struggles and strides of women in STEM, and connections between film making and STEM.

All registrants will receive a secure link for 72-hour access to view the film prior to the webinar. Due to the topics covered, the film is most suitable for ages 14 and above.

STEM resources
Environmental engineer shares at-home STEM activities
Erika Espinosa-Ortiz, an environmental engineer with the Montana NSF EPSCoR project, has created two at-home STEM activities that help young people understand her research into how we can use natural materials to clean up water pollution.

Espinosa-Ortiz said her childhood growing up in Mexico City – a population center of over 20 million people – impacted her decision to become an environmental engineer. She saw serious issues with water scarcity and wants to look for ways to preserve our water resources. She also hopes to inspire other young people (everywhere) to care, conserve, and join in the search for solutions to our water crisis.

The CREWS Junior Researcher experiments focus on acid mine drainage, and they will help young people understand how stream pollution might occur when industrial activities like mining combine with naturally occurring processes. Youth will also learn how scientists and engineers — including those on the Montana NSF EPSCoR project — are helping to preserve water quality and clean up contaminated areas using natural materials and processes.

Both experiments use materials that can be found fairly easily at home or at a grocery store. However, Montana NSF EPSCoR can support students or teachers who would like to do the experiments but are having trouble accessing the materials. Please email Suzi Taylor at taylor@montana.edu if you would like help acquiring the materials or would like a group kit to complete with a classroom or out-of-school youth program.

Montana Afterschool Alliance partners with other states to offer free virtual conference on Oct. 16
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Montana Afterschool Alliance and several other states had to cancel their annual conferences. Now, MTAA, along with eight additional state networks, are partnering to offer Open Minds, Open Spaces: A free virtual event to afterschool partners in the state of Montana!

Featured Topics include Entrepreneurship, Racial Equity, Social Emotional Learning, STEM Learning, and more! Register now.
Code Girls United begins at Belgrade Library Oct. 7;
Flathead Valley, Columbia Falls, Dillon, Anaconda and Polson to follow!
Belgrade Library Code Girls United registration is now open. This year-long program starts Oct. 7 and meets 3:45 – 5:15pm every Wednesday. Girls will also participate in the NW Regional App Challenge in May 2021. The program is open to girls between 10-14 years old. Space is limited and registration is required at https://codegirlsunited.org/belgrade/

Other programs are starting across the state, too:

  • Flathead Valley Online Program: Starts October 22, 4-5:30pm. 

  • Columbia Falls Middle School Program (in person) only for girls at Columbia Falls Middle School. Starts: Second week of October. 

  • Dillon Middle School Online Program: Starts: Second week of October.  

  • Anaconda at Yes Empowerment's After School Program: Starts third week of October.  

  • Polson start is TBD. 

Started in 2016, Code Girls United teaches young girls to identify real-world Apps for cell phones, tablets, and computers. The success record has attracted the attention of Silicon Valley rain-makers who want to see Montanans succeed in developing a pool of future local talent. Code Girls United puts the power of business and computing in the hands of these young girls. You might say, ‘We help young girls code their own future."

For more information, contact Marianne Smith, Marianne.Smith.CGU@gmail.comhttps://codegirlsunited.org/
Contribute your STEAM programs to the Montana Afterschool Alliance Database!
Montana Afterschool Alliance is developing a statewide, searchable database of Montana experiences, experts and materials that serve youth in out-of-school time. Their goal is to support high-quality STEAM programming and explore strategies to overcome barriers to resource access for out-of-school time programs. Share your programs! For more information email Katy Johnson
Women in STEM
Cool Career: Ann Marie Reinhold - Hydroecologist
Ann Marie Reinhold
Thank you to Ann Marie Reinhold of Montana State University and Montana NSF EPSCoR, who shares her career with girls in Montana! Ann Marie is a hydroecologist (an ecologist who specializes in water) and interdisciplinary scientist. Excerpts are here; please read the full interview on the Montana NSF EPSCoR website.

What did you like to do as a young person? At what age and how did you know you wanted to be a scientist?
I was a competitive gymnast when I was young. I spent my days at school and my afternoons and evenings training, often leaving the house around 7 AM and returning after 9 PM. But, whenever I wasn’t at school or the gym, I wanted to be outside. Some of my fondest childhood memories are snorkeling in the seagrass at the nearby Howard Park, fishing the Gulf of Mexico with my family, and adventuring in the Appalachians near where my mom grew up or in the Rockies near where much of my dad’s family settled.

As a kid, I was relentlessly curious. Looking back, I can’t think of a single moment when I knew I would become a scientist, but there were signs all along. For instance, I convinced my grandparents to buy me a “real” microscope when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I enjoyed the pre-made slides that came with the microscope, but far more interested in doing science. I would go into my backyard and prep my own slides from water I collected from the birdbath and attempt to draw what I saw in the lens. 

If you’ve never looked at lake, stream, or birdbath water under a scope, I highly recommend it. You’ll never look at a drop of water the same way again.  

What advice would you give to a Montana kid who is interested in being a scientist?
On more than one occasion, I have been told that my approach to research is fearless. It’s a nice compliment, but it isn’t accurate. Like most perfectionists, I am afraid of taking on new challenges because I’m scared of failing to succeed or deliver. However, my curiosity and drive to uncover “capital-T Truth” has always been bigger than my fear. 

So, my advice to any budding scientist is to allow your curiosity to subsume you. Follow your lines of inquiry to completion and welcome the beautiful overwhelm that comes from knowing that there is far more to this world, solar system, and universe than any of us will ever know. My biggest professional regrets arise from not taking risks because I was too busy listening to my overly loud inner critic, whereas my proudest moments have come from letting my passion and inquisitiveness lead me to unexpected discoveries.

"Taking risks – from raising your hand when you don’t understand something in class to perhaps reaching out to a university professor like me – can be scary, but is important if you are interested in a rewarding career as a scientist."

STEM opportunities for youth
Sept. 14 - Dec. 14. Bozeman. Preschool Science Series at Montana Science Center. Join MSC every Monday for a book reading, science experiment, and take-home craft on various STEM topics. Pre-registration required. We will be meeting at Bozeman Pond Park (behind the Gallatin Valley Mall) while warm weather persists. Visit https://montanasciencecenter.org/

Sept. 28, Oct. 15-16, Oct. 27. Bozeman. PIR at Montana Science Center. Awesome science programming when kids are out of school. Visit https://montanasciencecenter.org/

Sessions begin Sept. 29, Oct. 27, Nov. 24. Bozeman. Science Class four-week sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays. MSC offers engaging and interactive science lessons each week. Sessions are 4 weeks long. Grades K-5. $60 per session per student. Scholarships available. https://montanasciencecenter.org/discover/ongoing-programs

Oct. 15, Oct. 31, Nov. 19, Dec. 17. Bozeman. Family Science Days at Montana Science Center. Take a closer look at the science behind each of MSC's exhibits! Join as a family to participate in engaging science experiments and maker activities. Registration not required, but limited capacity maintained. All ages welcome. Included with membership. Visit https://montanasciencecenter.org/discover/special-programs

COMING SOON in Missoula! spectrUM Discovery Area in Missoula is in the process of moving to their new location at the Missoula Public Library and will open this fall. Learn more.
STEM Learn at Home opportunities
Montana Destination Imagination is offering a variety of simple and virtual Instant Challenges via their Facebook page. Destination Imagination Instant Challenges are designed to help children understand that by working collaboratively and following their innate curiosity, they can approach any problem with confidence and tenacity. Instant Challenges can be performance-based, task-based or a combination of the two. https://www.facebook.com/MontanaDI/

ExplorationWorks in Helena offers easy, exciting science activities that capture kids' interests. ExWorks tells its students that anyone can be a scientist, and that includes adults! You hold the key to unlock a child's curiosity and sense of wonder, and we're sharing our best tips for engaging kids in science (spoiler: make it FUN!). https://www.explorationworks.org/experiments
About the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative
The Montana Girls STEM Collaborative was founded as an outreach program of Montana NSF EPSCoR and has co-leaders at Montana State University and the University of Montana as well as volunteer board members across the state. This material is based upon work supported in part by the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Cooperative Agreement OIA-1757351. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Suzi Taylor
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT
(406) 994-7476
Jessie Herbert
University of Montana
Missoula, MT
(406) 243-4828