About our 2023 Giving Day project
Montana Science Olympiad is a strong and established program that currently serves over 1,000 Montana students in grades 6-12 with high-quality STEM competitions and camaraderie. However, SciOly is currently only offered for Montana middle and high school students. Research shows that students begin exploring their identity and relationship to STEM at an earlier age, so this is our chance to bring SciOly to grades K-5. This is also an excellent opportunity for middle and high school Science Olympians to become STEM mentors and role models for younger students in their district.
Our goal is to launch an Elementary Science Olympiad (ESO) program in Montana by offering resources to a minimum of ten communities. We look to support elementary schools with an existing tie to a middle or high school Science Olympiad program as well as those that would be brand-new to Science Olympiad. Our MSU Science Math Resource Center is ready and available to offer free training, mentoring and ongoing support for teachers, parents and community members who want to start a program; however, we seek to raise a minimum of $3,000 so we can supply each school with $300 worth of teachers’ manuals, STEM kit activities, and materials so they can launch and sustain an ESO program.
Elementary teachers often report that time and financial burdens are the two largest barriers to implementing successful STEM practices. This project leverages the national Science Olympiad events that have been extensively organized and tested to reduce planning time, and encourage informal learning during out-of-classroom time to connect to students and supplement the classroom experience. The kits and consumables we will supply to the local organizers will also alleviate some of the financial burden associated with hands-on science activities. Many of these kits also contain re-usable materials that can be used in future years.
This campaign has been generously supported with a $500 dollar-for-dollar match. The first $500 dollars will be doubled.
About our organization
We are a STEM outreach center based in the MSU Department of Education. We offer professional development for educators and STEM enrichment programs for youth across Montana with a focus on serving students, schools and communities that have been historically excluded from STEM.
Your gift will have an impact
Research shows that students who are involved in extracurricular STEM activities are more likely to perform better in STEM subjects within school and increase their sense of self-efficacy within STEM; however, many Montana youth – particularly those in our most rural communities and smallest schools – have no access to STEM events and activities such as summer camps, school clubs or afterschool enrichment. Helping schools and communities to launch a sustainable Elementary Science Olympiad program would build an infrastructure for ongoing STEM support that helps K-5 students learn more about future careers and encourage greater community engagement with STEM.
Research also shows that supporting elementary students in SciOly enhances elementary teacher understanding of STEM and increases their likelihood of using hands-on activities in the future. Our hope is that this project engages elementary students in STEM challenges that will develop their understanding of the variety of STEM fields while also growing the STEM identity and confidence of our middle and high school students who help out as mentors. Who knows, these Science Olympians may even become our future Bobcat scientists and engineers!