SciNation logo

spectrUM, with its SciNation Advisory Committee, is committed to empowering and inspiring the Flathead Indian Reservation and its youth about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), higher education, and STEM careers.  Together, we work to foster passion for STEM learning through culturally relevant, 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.

Impact at a Glance

Science Learning Tent

Each summer at the Arlee Celebration, the largest powwow on the Flathead Reservation, spectrUM and SciNation's Science Learning Tent creates a space where children and their families can explore hands-on STEM and meet STEM role models from the Tribes and from the University of Montana. In 2016, the Science Learning Tent expanded to include the Elmo Standing Arrow Powwow.

Kwul / 'I'tkin Maker Truck

Launched with a National Science Foundation grant, the Kwul 'I'tkin Maker Truck is a mobile, cultural makerspace co-designed by spectrUM, SciNation, and the Salish and Kootenai culture committees. The Maker Truck is owned and operated by the Tribes' Natural Resources Department and brings culturally relevant STEM activities, including basket weaving, drum making, and beading to K-12 schools and community events. The project's activity guide is available for educators here.

Science Bytes

Embodying the mantra of "just add science," the Science Bytes program embeds hands-on STEM learning at free summer meals sites on the Flathead Reservation, bringing role models and enrichment to community sites where children already gather. Science Bytes has been supported by GSK Science in the Summer, No Kid Hungry, Ronan School District, and the Bonneville Power Administration.

Science on Wheels

spectrUM's Science on Wheels program transforms school gyms into hands-on science centers. The program visits K-12 schools across our state, including on the Flathead Indian Reservation, with exhibitions such as Water, Montana Makers, Hands on Health, Brain: A World Inside Your Head, and Motion.

Science and Tech Festival

As part of the U.S. Department of Education-funded BRAIDS project led by the Salish Kootenai College, spectrUM and SciNation partnered with organizations on the Flathead Reservation to launch the reservation-wide Science and Tech Festival to engage middle school students with locally relevant challenges such as water quality and food sovereignty.

Partners and Funders

  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • Bonneville Power Administration
  • Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County
  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Education Department
  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Health Department
  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Natural Resources Department
  • GSK Science in the Summer
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • Montana No Kid Hungry
  • Montana Space Grant Consortium
  • Montana National Science Foundation EPSCoR
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Science Foundation
  • North Lake County Public LIbrary
  • Noyce Foundation
  • O.P. & W.E. Edwards Foundation
  • Salish Kootenai College
  • Three Chiefs Culture Center
  • University of Montana
  • U.S. Department of Education

SciNation Timeline

  • spectrUM begins bringing programming to the Flathead Reservation.
  • Former spectrUM Director Holly Truitt forms the Flathead reservation Community Advisory Group as part of a Noyce Leadership Institute fellowship.
  • spectrUM receives honorable mention in the Noyce Foundation's Bright Lights Community Engagement Awards competition.
  • Science Learning Tent, co-designed with the advisory group, engages 1,500 powwow visitors at the Arlee Celebration.
  • Flathead Community Advisory Group renames itself SciNation on the Flathead Reservation.
  • Science Bytes program launches.
  • spectrUM and SciNation receive the Paul Shin Memorial Award for science communication from the Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science.
  • Science Learning Tent expands to the Elmo Standing Arrow Powwow.
  • The Kwul 'I'tkin Maker Truck launches with funding from the National Science Foundation
  • The reservation-wide Science and Tech Challenge launches as part of Salish Kootenai College's BRAIDS project.
  • The Montana Indian Education Association presents spectrUM and SciNation with a special recognition award.
  • spectrUM and SciNation deliver over 2,000 take-home science kits to youth on the Flathead reservation
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services awards a grant to spectrUM for "Making Across Montana," a mobile, place-based making and tinkering program to be co-designed with SciNation and other rural partners.

Committee Members

Whisper Camel-Means
Whisper Camel-Means
CSKT Natural Resources Department
Aric Cooksley
Aric Cooksley
Boys and Girls Club of Flathead Reservation and Lake County
Stephanie Gillin
Stephanie Gillin
CSKT Natural Resources Department
Jessie Herbert-Meny
Jessie Herbert-Meny
spectrUM Discovery Area
Cindi Laukes
Cindi Laukes
UM Neural Injury Center
Michelle Mitchell
Michelle Mitchell
CSKT Education Department
LeeAnna Muzquiz
LeeAnna Muzquiz
CSKT Health Department and University of Washington
Amy Vaughan
Amy Vaughan
Boys and Girls Club of Flathead Reservation and Lake County
Wren Walker Robbins
Wren Walker Robbins
Salish Kootenai College


Past Committee Members:

  • Bernie Azure, CSKT Health Department
  • Julie Cajune, CSKT Education Department
  • Carey Swanberg, Ronan School District
  • Bill Swaney, CSKT Education Department
  • Holly Truitt, spectrUM Discovery Area
  • Kend Mullison, North Lake County Public Library
  • Jonathon Ricther, Salish Kootenai College and Tech4Good