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Montana NSF EPSCoR increases Montana’s research competitiveness by strengthening STEM capacity and capability. Through our education, outreach and diversity programs, we seek to:

Support, promote and establish STEM professional development pathways while broadening participation of diverse individuals, groups and institutions in STEM.

In a state as geographically large and as sparsely populated as Montana, sharing resources can be a barrier, particularly for those located in Montana’s rural and reservation communities.

We strive to overcome these barriers through an EPSCoR-developed effort called Montana STEM Exchange that will serve both as a dissemination channel for resources developed through Montana NSF EPSCoR as well as a larger statewide network for STEM education and outreach resources.

Objectives include:

  1. Collect needs assessment data so we can best serve the state and allocate new resources toward areas of highest need
  2. Build a network and infrastructure that maximizes efficiencies while avoiding duplication of efforts; help stakeholders utilize resources already in place
  3. Use the network to disseminate outreach products related to CREWS interdisciplinary research
  4. Develop and use the network to disseminate Montana-specific resources that emphasize place-based science and STEM pathways

Plans and progress to date:

Our EPSCoR strategic plan calls for the launch of a technical solution in Year 4 of the project (Fall 2021-Summer 2022). In Years 1-3 we will begin building the network by recruiting and engaging diverse stakeholders from academia, government, industry and education; and use their feedback and ideas to begin outlining a technical specifications document for a Web-based solution.

Year 1 activities:

Co-hosted Montana STEM Summit (August 2019) with 165 diverse stakeholders. Collected ideas and data, much of it centered on the need for a centralized “hub” and/or repository of STEM resources. Key partners: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, Montana Afterschool Alliance, Montana NSF EPSCoR, MSU Science Math Resource Center, Northwestern Energy, School Services of Montana

Began inventory of networks, databases and repositories already in place, so as to avoid duplication of effort.

Began reviewing overlap with Montana Girls STEM Collaborative; creating plan for how this and other resources in place can support the effort.

In August 2019, the NSF EPSCoR outreach team was a key organizer of the Montana STEM Summit 2019, held at Montana State University.

Year 2 activities:

In Winter 2019-20, the NSF EPSCoR outreach team worked with the Montana Afterschool Alliance to synthesize data from the Montana STEM Summit 2019 in order to create a working document that could inform programming and guide policymaking. The resulting report was printed and posted online; it was also submitted to and accepted for Montana State University's ScholarWorks at https://scholarworks.montana.edu/xmlui/handle/1/15854 The report reveals several areas of need in STEM learning in Montana, including the need for better connections between industry and education, as well as the need for building better systems and networks for coordination and collaboration, which is also a key outcome for NSF EPSCoR.

Years 3-4:

Our EPSCoR strategic plan calls for the launch of a technical solution in Year 4 of the project (Fall 2021-Summer 2022). In Years 1-3 we will begin building the network by recruiting and engaging diverse stakeholders from academia, government, industry and education; and use their feedback and ideas to begin outlining a technical specifications document for a Web-based solution.

Resources

As identified at STEM Summit 2019, the directories below offer STEM resources for educators and families. We encourage Montana organizations to post and upload their STEM resources and events, and we hope Montana educators and families will use them to find high-quality relevant resources.

  • The Connectory: Searchable directory of STEM/STEAM events and opportunities
  • FabFems: International directory of women STEM role models
  • How to Smile.org: Free hands-on science and math activities for informal environments
  • Science Buddies: Hands-on science resources for home and school
  • SciStarter: Directory of citizen science projects

The Montana Afterschool Alliance is building a database of afterschool/out-of-school programs in Montana. Submit yours!

Do you use the databases listed above to find STEM resources for Montana? Please let us know what works and what you wish you had in addition!