Eight Montana projects have received mini-grant funding from the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative to help develop or grow science, technology, engineering and math programs that serve girls and youth.
The collaborative is a statewide network with hubs at Montana State University and University of Montana. The mini grants of $500 to $1,000 were given in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies, which created an online database called the IF/THEN Collection that features women scientists and engineers. The database features profiles of 125 female ambassadors who serve as role models for young people, and all photographs, videos and text found on the site are free for educational use. Organizations receiving grants will use the collection to encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
The projects that received funding are listed below by title, location and description:
Breaking the Ceiling: Helping Underrepresented Youth Get into Game Design and STEM – Great Falls, Browning, Helena, Pryor and Power
Ingenium, a nonprofit PlayStation-certified game studio in Great Falls, is helping underrepresented youth in Montana consider careers in STEM. The nonprofit will present to students across Montana on inclusion and diversity in STEM fields, especially in computer science and video game design. Students will get to access games being designed in Montana while learning about women in the design and computer science industry.
Code Girls United Summer Camp - Anaconda, Browning, Chinook, Columbia Falls, Evergreen, Havre, Joliet, Kalispell, Polson, Red Lodge, Ronan and Sidney
Code Girls United, a Kalispell-based organization that offers statewide programming on coding, technology and business, will host its first-ever summer camp to give girls the opportunity to interact with coding and technology materials. Girls in the program learn hands-on computer engineering skills while creating an app to solve a community problem. Using the IF/THEN collection, students can see women utilizing similar skills in their careers.
Building a Library Maker Space - Circle
The George McCone Memorial Library in Circle is building a “makerspace” to give students access to engaging materials while sharing images of role models from the IF/THEN Collection. Every month, the makerspace will host a STEM class for girls to explore math and science. Local Girl Scout troops can also use the space for STEM projects.
Role Model Billboards - Billings
Wise Wonders Children’s Museum will place billboards in high-traffic areas in Billings showing girls and women engaging in STEM activities with the hope that visual representation of women in STEM fields will help inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers. The group also hopes the billboards will bring more traffic to the museum, which provides access to materials and projects utilizing skills such as experimentation, hypothesis testing and building.
To Infinity and Beyond: Stargazing – Missoula, Browning
Upward Bound in Missoula is helping students explore careers in astronomy. Students will be able to attend two events where they will see IF/THEN role models who are astronomers, attend a planetarium show and look through telescopes while University of Montana astronomy students explain what students are seeing. They will also hear star stories from Native scholars to help inspire a new generation of scientists.
Promoting Girls in STEM - Sidney
The Boys and Girls Club of Richland County in Sidney is using various curricula to promote STEM training and occupations for women and girls. Using STEM skills and activities from the IF/THEN collection, girls will learn what careers are available to them in STEM fields.
Coding Through Dance Mini-STEM Camp - Missoula
The University of Montana Department of Teaching and Learning hosted a one-day camp for girls to learn about the intersection of robots and dance. The project used the IF/THEN collection to choreograph and perform a dance with robots. Girls coded robots to perform dances with the assistance of UM K-8 education majors.
Myra’s STEM Journey: Lifelong Learning, Advocacy and Mentorship to Advance Transportation Technology and Inspire Future Innovators - statewide
SAE International has highlighted Myra Blanco, a Hispanic woman who works in autonomous vehicle technology development, and will utilize the IF/THEN collection in Montana and across the country to spotlight women and diversity in STEM across different disciplines. SAE International is home to the A World In Motion (AWIM) STEM education program that has been used in Montana since 2005 and has reached more than 45,000 Montana students in the last five years.
The Montana Girls STEM Collaborative is an outreach program of Montana’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR program with co-leaders in MSU’s Science Math Resource Center and the University of Montana’s spectrUM Discovery Area. For more information visit montana.edu/smrc/documents/Girls_STEM_Collaborative.html or follow Montana Girls STEM Collaborative on Facebook at facebook.com/montanagirlsstem.