April 2024

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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.

STEM Summer Institute 2024

Join us at Montana's premiere STEM conference, the STEM Summer Institute, Aug. 5-7 at MSU 

Educators, plan to join us on the MSU campus this summer for the sixth annual STEM Summer Institute featuring keynote speakers Paul Andersen of Bozeman Science and Ann Marie Reinhold of MSU. This event features compelling workshops and breakout sessions, shared meals and networking, exhibitor booths with lots of freebies and inspiring speakers.

Missed our early bird registration discount? Here's a secret code for you to save 10% off registration!


The STEM Summer Institute is hosted by the MSU Science Math Resource Center, School Services of Montana and many partner organizations.

Celebrate World Quantum Day on (or near) April 14

World Quantum Day is an international event held on April 14 to generate interest in quantum science and technologies. Quantum is the science of atoms and particles, which are the building blocks of the universe. Scientists have used quantum mechanics to create technology we use every day, such as the chips in smartphones. What exciting technology will be discovered next?

Our goal is to help Montana educators and youth engage in the work of quantum science through lesson kits for teachers to use on or near World Quantum Day. Although applications to receive a free kit have closed, we will be posting free resources and downloads on our MSU web page at www.montana.edu/smrc/quantum You can also access a recording of our teaching training held on March 26. For questions, contact Elizabeth Green at elizabethgreen5@montana.edu.

This work is supported by MSU's Applied Quantum Core.

April is citizen science month

Learn more about Citizen Science Month and join SciStarter's One Million Acts of Science and contribute to a global campaign during April.

New to Citizen Science? Visit Science Math Resource Center's Montana Citizen Science Network page where you can watch our Getting Started video or subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

MSU Summer Math Camp

June 17 – June 20, 2024


Students entering 6-9th grade in Fall 2024 

$220 (includes lunch and snacks) 


The Science Math Resource Center offers an in-person day camp on the MSU campus with mathematics and problem-solving sessions, university lab tours, and engaging STEM activities. Students entering 6th through 9th grade in Fall 2024, with a love for advanced mathematical concepts are encouraged to enroll.   

New this year! Montana families traveling from outside the Bozeman area to attend camp are welcome to use MSU’s summer housing, an affordable option to Bozeman’s summer housing challenge. Details coming soon... 

Registration Now Open! 

Help build a STEM Learning Ecosystem in Montana!

The Science Math Resource Center is one of several partners supporting the Montana Afterschool Alliance as they work toward forming a STEM Learning Ecosystem in Montana. STEM learning ecosystems are networks of organizations that work together and support one another to advance STEM learning opportunities for young people.

You can learn more about this effort or sign-up for a list-serv to stay in touch. Watch for an announcement of a statewide virtual meeting later this month!

Partner programs and opportunities

Professional Development Opportunity from the Montana Afterschool Alliance (MTAA)

Join MTAA for an interdisciplinary professional development opportunity at MTAA’s statewide conference! Afterschool and Beyond will be held in Butte on April 19-20.

This conference is designed for professional and personal renewal. In addition to hands-on learning in relevant content areas, we have time in the schedule to connect with colleagues and focus on the well-being of the youth development professionals who support students beyond the school day. Day one will include two intensive topics focusing on making every child feel welcome in your program, as well as safe, empowered, and connected to their community. Day two will have a variety of workshop choices. Sprinkled throughout are opportunities for peer learning, personal reflection, and relationship building. This experience will be as unique and memorable as Butte itself.

Use code NEWSLETTER for a 10% discount on registration! Additional discounts available for bringing multiple staff. OPI and ECP credits available.  

Learn more and register on the MTAA website: http://www.mtafterschoolalliance.org/conference

Free for Montana teachers*: Online summer graduate course Computer Science in the Classroom: Computational Thinking for Teachers (CSCI 581, 2 credits)

This virtual (synchronous) course examines the computing field and how it impacts the human condition. Exciting ideas and influential people are introduced. A gentle introduction to computational thinking using the Python programming language is provided. The course also introduces participants to robotic platforms. Offered virtually July 8 – July 12, 2024, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm daily. Taught by MSU-Bozeman Computer Science Faculty, Hunter Lloyd.

*Full tuition stipend available for teachers in Montana who submit a letter of support from an administrator and a brief letter of intent.

Visit the MSU MSSE program website for registration, application and other information: montana.edu/msse or msse@montana.edu. (NOTE: you can take MSSE classes as a non-degree seeking student—you do not need to be admitted to the MSU Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) program to take this course.)

STEM STRONG seeks rural teachers of grades 3-5 for paid professional learning opportunity (we still need more Montana teachers!)

  • Receive targeted support from professional learning providers focused on NGSS-aligned science and engineering instruction.
  • You will be eligible to receive a $1600 stipend in exchange for full participation in activities during the 2024-25 school year.
  • Have the opportunity to continue learning with this professional community while receiving additional stipends and modest supports through the 2025-26 school year.
  • Contribute to the empirical research about professional learning outcomes for K-12 educators.

Visit this site to express your interest

Free Professional Virtual Coaching for Out-of-School Educators

ACRES is a nationally recognized virtual coaching program that builds knowledge and skills so afterschool educators, librarians and anyone who works with youth in out-of-school settings can confidently facilitate STEM experiences for youth. Participating in the ACRES series will help afterschool educators build facilitation skills and confidence in STEM. Cohorts start in April and May.

The program leaders with the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance tell us they've never had a participant from Montana, and they want to change that! Check it out and apply!

Visit acrescoaching.org

  • One cohort begins April 16 and runs for three sessions. Use COHORT ID: AC330PQ
  • Another cohort begins May 8 and runs for three sessions. Use COHORT ID: AC362PQ

Contact acres@mmsa.org for more information

Paid summer nanoscience workshop for middle school teachers

The Nanoscience Institute for Middle School Teachers (NanoSIMST) is a PAID workshop for teachers to engage in nanoscience and technology, discover nano lessons to engage students and learn about several resources in the field.

The Montana Nanotechnology Facility (MONT) based at MSU is sponsoring several Montana teachers' attendance at the virtual workshop, July 15-19. MONT will provide a $500 stipend on completion of the workshop along with an additional $300 for classroom implementation. 

This workshop is hosted by our colleagues at nano@stanford, Stanford University's nano experts, with guest instructors from MONT and other universities across our NNCI network. 

The application deadline is April 26. Learn more here. Download the workshop informational flyer here.

April 18: Learn about the Biomimicry Institute's Youth Design Challenge

The Biomimicry Institute (based in Missoula, Montana) wants to teach you about biomimicry and introduce you to the Youth Design Challenge (YDC), a free project-based STEM learning initiative for grades 6-12. It empowers students to address real-world sustainability issues using nature-inspired solutions. This interdisciplinary challenge provides an NGSS-aligned framework for educators of all types to introduce biomimicry as a lens for exploration and problem-solving within and beyond the classroom. It sparks curiosity and ingenuity in middle and high school students, turning learners into makers. 

The workshop is April 18 at 4pm MT and is sponsored by PocketLab's Science Is Cool program. Learn more.

Do you want to engage your students and community in actions that address pressing environmental issues?  

Through federal funding opportunities of up to $5,000, NOAA Planet Stewards will support formal and informal educators working with elementary through college age students, and the public, to carry out hands-on stewardship projects. Stewardship projects must make a substantive, and quantitatively measurable impact on an environmental issue related to the educator’s community. Projects should focus on the conservation, restoration, and/or protection of human communities and/or natural resources from environmental issues in one of the following four focus areas: 

  • Marine debris mitigation/removal 
  • Habitat conservation and restoration 
  • Carbon footprint reduction 
  • Carbon sequestration 

Deadline June 2, 2024 

Learn more

June 12-14, 2024

American Prairie National Discovery Center in Lewistown and Antelope Creek Campground

You are invited to join American Prairie and Montana Outdoor Science School (MOSS) in using American Prairie’s living prairie laboratory to explore the science of prairies. Get outdoor and investigate this unique ecosystem, learn from scientific researchers, and collaborate with your colleagues. We are excited to invite you to be a part of this event to both provide enrichment for you as a teacher and also learn more about the American Prairie Field School program for Montana K-12 students.

There is no cost to Montana teachers for this workshop which includes an option for continuing education units from the Montana Office of Public Instruction. 

For more information or to schedule a visit contact:

Dusty Rixford, Education Coordinator dusty@americanprairie.org

(406) 595-2209


FireWorks class in Missoula June 11-12

Register for a free workshop on June 11-12 at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory. The class consists of two intense days of entertaining hands-on activities for teaching students about wildland fire behavior, ecology, management and activities related to traditional fire use by Native Americans. Content will focus on ecosystems in the Northern Rocky Mountains and North Cascade range, but the program has been adapted for use in other ecosystems. The FireWorks program is a valuable resource for teachers (teacher renewal credits or University of Montana credit available), youth leaders, agency educators and fire prevention specialists, communication specialists, and outdoor educators. For more information or to register, visit https://www.frames.gov/fireworks/home or email Court Johnson

STEM opportunities for youth

STEM essay contest

Naval Horizons introduces students to cutting-edge STEM topics that impact the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps – to include autonomy, oceanography, cybersecurity, undersea medicine, and more. We invite students to learn about Naval STEM challenges and our scientists and engineers through this video series. Then, we encourage students to write an essay explaining how our research and our people inspire them. This contest challenges students to picture themselves in a STEM career by designing the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps of the future. Visit https://www.navalhorizons.us/

New from MSU: Club for high school students interested in becoming a rural teacher

The MSU Rural Pathways Program is starting a Bridge to College initiative whereby current high school students are invited to be part of an online professional learning community called the Future Rural Educators' Club, led by Glendive Superintendent Stephen Schreibeis. The club will meet virtually 1-2 times per month and participation in the club enables students to apply for additional opportunities such as paid campus visits.  If you have any questions, please contact Marcie Reuer at marcie.reuer@montana.edu

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 bit.ly/smrc-news