SciNation on the Flathead Indian Reservation

SciNation logo

spectrUM, with its SciNation Advisory Committee, is committed to empowering and inspiring the Flathead Indian Reservation and its youth about science, technology, engingeering, and mathematics (STEM), higher education, and STEM careers.  Together, we work to foster passion for STEM learning through culturally appropriate, community-created programming rich with local and native role models and hands-on experiences.  Through year-round programming both in school and in the community, we foster a vibrant STEM learning ecosystem to ignite students' excitement about learning and build a ladder for K-12 students into tomorrow's college classrooms and STEM careers.

Collectively, we are making impact.

Our collaboration has grown and evolved over time. With its founding in 2006, spectrUM began bringing exhibits and educators to schools and community events on the reservation. As spectrUM’s partnerships with teachers, school administrators, and tribal leaders deepened, we worked together to expand our programming and develop a holistic approach to providing hands-on STEM experiences and role models year round, both in and beyond the classroom walls. Today, many of spectrUM’s earliest champions sit alongside more recent partners on SciNation on the Flathead Reservation, an independent working group that co-creates programs and exhibits for all youth on the reservation.

Key Initiatives

SciNation Native Role Model Program

Students benefit from interactions with role models they can relate to.  spectrUM, with SciNation, strives to connect students with both local and tribal role models and near peers through authentic experiences.

Science Learning Tent at the Arlee Celebration

Since 2006, spectrUM has brought role models and hands-on learning to the Arlee Celebration.  In 2014, with funds from the Noyce Leadership Institute, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Montana National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR), spectrUM partnered with the Flathead Advisory Group to expand the Science Learning Tent.  That summer, the Tent reached over 1,500 powwow visitors over three days with interactive exhibits and hands-on activities led by local role models from the Flathead Reservation and the University of Montana.  spectrUM, with SciNation, continues to host the Science Learning Tent at the Arlee Celebration, with a different theme each day of the powwow.

Kwul / 'I'tkin Maker Truck

In 2016, the University of Montana Broader Impacts Group (including spectrUM) received from the National Science Foundation an EAGER grant to develop a mobile, cultural maker truck to inspire the Flathead Indian Reservation’s next generation work force.  Rich with Native STEM role models and traditional tools and practices of the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille tribes, the Kwul/’I’tkin Maker Truck will be equipped to travel to schools and community events.

Science Bytes

With funding from the Noyce Foundation’s Bright Lights Awards and additional funding from No Kid Hungry, the Ronan School District, GSK Science in the Summer, and the Bonneville Power Administration, spectrUM, with SciNation, launched a “Science Bytes” program at summer free meals sites, which served 3,500 students and families in the summer of 2015 and 2016.

Family Science Nights

Since 2008, spectrUM has brought hands-on science activities to schools and community organizations through a mobile science program. Frequently offered as part of spectrUM’s moble science program is Family Science Nights, where students explore science concepts with their parents and friends. The Family Science Night at Ronan’s K. William Harvey Elementary School is rich with science experiences and local role models from a variety of community organizations on the Flathead Reservation.

Partners

  • Noyce Foundation
  • Noyce Leadership Institute
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • National Science Foundation
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Montana National Science Foundation EPSCoR Program
  • Montana Space Grant Consortium
  • The People’s Center
  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
  • CSK Tribal Education Department
  • CSK Tribal Health Department
  • CSK Tribal Natural Reousrces Department
  • Bonneville Power Administration
  • GSK Science in the Summer
  • O.P. & W.E. Edwards Foundation
  • Montana No Kid Hungry
  • UM Office of Research & Creative Scholarship
  • UM Broader Impacts Group
  • UM We Are Montana in the Classroom
  • Big Sky Brain Project
  • Techbridge
Visitor to Arlee Celebration launches a stomp rocket.

Committee Members

Current Committee Members

  • Whisper Camel-Means
  • Stephanie Gillin
  • Jessie Herbert
  • Cindi Laukes
  • LeeAnna Muzquiz
  • Carey Swanberg
  • Bill Swaney
  • Holly Truitt

Past Committee Members

  • Bernie Azure (2013-2014)
SciNation committee members

SciNation Timeline

  • 2006: With seed funding from NSF EPSCoR, the Science Learning Tent is launched, developed by Gay Allison, Heather Cahoon, Faith Price, and spectrUM Executive Director Holly Truitt.
  • 2006-present: spectrUM partners with STEM and education leaders in K-12 schools and at Tribal Health, Salish Kootenai College, and other organizations on the reservation.
  • 2009: The Montana NSF EPSCoR program fund’s spectrUM’s Weather Exhibit to travel to Pablo, MT.
  • 2009-present: spectrUM’s mobile science program reaches over 6,800 students at schools on the Flathead Reservation.
  • 2010-present: spectrUM attends Family Science Nights at Ronan’s K. William Harvey Elementary School, coordinated by Carey Swanberg.
  • 2011-present: Annual community events in partnership with Tribal Health: Kids’ Health Fair in St. Ignatius, Tribal Health Fair in Pablo, and Healthcare Warriors camp in Blue Bay.
  • 2013: spectrUM Executive Director Holly Truitt is given a prestegious Noyce Leadership Institute fellowship.  As part of her efforts to make spectrUM's approach community-based, she forms the Flathead Reservation Community Advisory Group to steer community programming.
  • May 2014: spectrUM received an honorable mention in the Noyce Foundation’s Bright Lights Community Engagement Awards competition.
  • July 2014: Science Learning Tent at Arlee Celebration serves 1,500 powwow visitors.
  • November 2014: The Flathead Advisory Committee renames itself SciNation on the Flathead Reservation.
  • Summer 2015: Launch of the Science Bytes program, which served over 2,500 students and families in its first summer.
  • October 2015: spectrUM, with SciNation, receive the Paul Shin Memorial Award for science communication from the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS).
  • Summer 2016: Science Learning Tent expands to include the Elmo Standing Arrow Powwow.
  • September 2016: NSF awards spectrUM and Tribal Education agrant to create a mobile, cultural makerspace.