June 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.

Last call to win one of 24 gift cards

Ending June 10 -- Teachers: Tell us what you need and win a prize!

Montana K-12 teachers of all subjects and grade levels: We are here to support you, but we need to know: what do you need in terms of professional development, classroom equipment and other resources that will help you and your students?

Now through June 10--answer our online survey and you could win one of:

  • Four $100 Amazon gift cards
  • Twenty $25 Amazon gift cards

That's a lot of prizes! Think of all the great stuff you could buy! And more importantly, you are helping to shape the future of how the Science Math Resource Center can support you as teachers. This survey is designed to gather actionable data about your professional learning needs, preferences, and barriers. Thanks you.

Take the Educator Needs Assessment survey here

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.

New promo: Come with your team! If two teachers register from the same district, get a third registration FREE

Registering just yourself? Here's a secret code from SMRC 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.

Teachers....what would you like to know about AI and how you can share it with your students?

Looking for relevant connections to share with your K-12 students on how generative AI is being used in STEM fields in Montana? MSU is part of a new project focused on how AI, machine learning, and sensors can be used to study the behavior and social impact of prescribed fires. 

One goal of this project is to help teachers leverage K-12 students’ interest in AI and build excitement for STEM careers in Montana that make use of AI such as those STEM researchers participating in the prescribed fire research. 

With that in mind, we are seeking input from teachers as to what you would like to learn about how AI is being used across STEM disciplines in Montana, and what you would like to learn about this emerging industry.

Please email nicholas.lux@montana.edu with any suggestions.

In case you missed it:

Montana STEM Ecosystem- Statewide Call

Identified as a top strategy for improving STEM literacy, workforce development and global competitiveness, STEM Learning Ecosystems are shaping STEM opportunities for youth.  A call on May 15 featured STEM Ecosystem leaders from Idaho, Colorado and Utah who shared insight into best practices, challenges, and opportunities to grow STEM learning across the Big Sky.

The recording is now available

Citizen Science

Montana State and partners receive $5 million grant for ongoing buffalo trail project at Fort Peck

An ongoing project that aims to help Indigenous people prosper alongside buffalo at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation has received a four-year, $5 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes. The grant was awarded by the America the Beautiful Challenge program, with funding support from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Elizabeth Bird is the principal investigator at MSU and project development and grants specialist in the College of Education, Health and Human Development.

The MSU Science Math Resource Center is one of many organizations that will be involved. SMRC will work with Fort Peck partners to develop citizen science lessons and activities relevant to the project.

Read the full article

Learn more!

NGCP Celebrates Citizen Science - In case you missed it

Citizen science is open to all and involves curious people whose individual acts contribute to a collective impact that is accelerating scientific research, discoveries, and local actions that improve the world. From sharing photos of nature to help scientists document biodiversity to browsing images on your computer to help speed up research about Alzheimer's disease, each of these acts of science is important. 

In this webinar recording, join NGCP, Montana State University, and SciStarter to hear examples of citizen science projects, gain ideas and resources for getting involved with projects, and learn how girls and other groups historically marginalized in science can benefit from participation in these programs. The NGCP Celebrates Citizen Science webinar was hosted by NGCP on April 30, 2024.

Watch the recording here

Summer activity: check out a citizen science kit from the MSU library

Did you know? ANY Montana resident can check out books and other items from the Montana State University library on the MSU-Bozeman campus, including four citizen science kits created by the Montana NSF EPSCoR project. Each includes all the resources and instructions you need to take part in a citizen science project with your friends, family or summer youth programs.

Visit the MSU Citizen Science Lending Library webpage for more information about the kits and how to check one out. Read the MSU news article here.

Join the Montana Citizen Science Network

Subscribe to the quarterly newsletter

Check out our past activities

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STEM opportunities for youth

Geospatial STEM Camps for high school students! June 10-14 in Glendive, Kalispell, Thompson Falls, and White Sulphur Springs

Geospatial Skills Camp is a five-day experience for high school students supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the MSU Science Math Resource Center. Learn about maps, GIS software, aerial imagery, drones, and careers involving geospatial skills. Participating students also get free STEM equipment to keep!

For more information, visit

  • Glendive / Dawson Community College - Visit GeoSpatial Skills Camp
  • Kalispell / Flathead County 4-H - Call the MSU Extension Office at 406-758-5553
  • Thompson Falls - Contact Doree Thilmony at 406-830-6075
  • White Sulphur Springs - Call Makayla Paul at 406-547-3042 or email makayla.paul@montana.edu

MSU Math Circle Camp June 17-20 offers math problem-solving for middle and high schoolers 

The Science Math Resource Center at Montana State University is hosting a summer math camp for middle and high school students highly motivated to succeed at advanced math. The camp focuses on intriguing math problem-solving content not found in typical school curriculums. In addition to math lessons, participants visit innovative university labs, engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities, and learn about the American Mathematics Competitions conducted by the Mathematical Association of America. 

Tuition is kept low by generous contributions from the College of Education, Health, and Human Development, The MSU Center for Faculty Excellence, and the Mathematical Association of America. MSU housing is available to families traveling from communities across the state. 


Dates: June 17-20 

Time: 9am-4pm 

Tuition: $220

Website: Montana Math Circle 

Contact: MSU Science Math Resource Center smrc@montana.edu or (406) 994-7476 

Partner programs and opportunities

Advancing STEM Research Teaching (ASRT) FREE Workshop June 17-20, Missoula 

(financial assistance available!)

  • Interested in incorporating student research into your science curriculum?  
  • Interested in starting/enhancing a student-research program at your school? 
  • Interested in (up to) 30 OPI or 2 university credits?!

Then PLEASE consider attending ASRT Training in Missoula, June 17-20! It’s not only focused on curriculum and activities, but also long-term guidance and networking. This is critical support if you’re interested in helping students enter science competitions.  

ASRT is a program run by veteran New York science teacher and ISEF-fair coordinator Michael Blueglass, sponsored by Regeneron and Zeiss Optics.  

Please contact Ginger Claussen (UM) or Rob Jensen (retired science teacher, Missoula) ASAP for more info!  



Top 10 mistakes when providing STEM research opportunities to students: https://www.asrtprogram.com/top-10-mistakes

ASRT 2023 Testimonials

Montana Learning Center Hosts Stargazing Nights at the Largest Public-Use Observatory in Montana

For three weekends this summer, the Montana Learning Center at Canyon Ferry Lake will open its state-of-the-art astronomical park to the public. The park consists of three observatories housing five telescopes, including the largest public-use telescope in Montana. The park is the largest astronomical facility of its kind open to the public in the Northwestern United States.

Each event will begin after sunset with a presentation and question & answer session with one of the Learning Center’s experts, followed by a tour of the night sky using the Center’s world-class telescopes. Each night’s presentation and tour of the night sky will be different.

June 28 & 29: Dr. Darci Snowden, Associate Professor of Physics at Central Washington University, specializing in planetary science, with a focus on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and Director of the Northwest Earth and Space Science Pathways (NESSP), a NASA Science Activation Program.

July 12 & 13: Professional astronomer and Mars Society Observatory Director Peter Detterline. As the Society’s Observatory Director, Mr. Detterline operates two telescopes, a solar observatory and a robotic observatory.

August 2 & 3: James Manning, retired Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, one of the nation’s leading organizations devoted to improving people’s understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of astronomy and space.

Attendance at each event is limited to 100 people and advance ticket purchase is required. Beyond the Big Sky is sponsored by Visit Southwest Montana, Visit Helena Montana and Montana Learning Center at Canyon Ferry Lake.

Visit https://montanalearning.org/beyond-big-sky/

Live from DisneyWorld at EPCOT on July 23

"Imagination Day," is a full-day virtual professional development event hosted by Science is Cool and featuring Disney Imagination Campus, offering an enriching experience for K-12 teachers.

Register for free

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