BMED faculty participate in numerous Outreach projects. These may be independent efforts or part of a larger programs organized through our various centers, departments or colleges. A majority of these activities are focused on K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), with the goal of using faculty expertise and resources to better impact science education in Montana schools. You can learn more about several of these efforts by clicking on the links provided below:
The spectrUM Discovery Area is a hands-on science center which promotes a culture of learning and discovery for all, with the ultimate goal of inspiring young Montanans to pursue higher
education and possibly careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Faculty in the Department of Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences originally established spectrUM and they continue to develop new STEM programming for the Discovery Area. Each year, we reach over 50,000 people with fun, hands-on exhibits and activities at our downtown Missoula museum and through our award-winning statewide mobile science program. To help ensure that our mission serves all Montanans, we maintain a robust Science for All Scholarship Fund for low-income children, schools, and communities. The spectrUM Discovery Area is located at 215 E. Front Street in downtown Missoula.
The Big Sky Brain Project is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health to the UM's Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience and spectrUM to provide interactive Neuroscience education to K-12 students in Montana. In 2013, the Big Sky Brain Project opened the Brain Zone, an exciting exhibition designed to inspire the next generation of Montanans and neuroscientists by sharing the dynamic world inside our heads. Through interactive exhibits, a BrainLab to explore C. elegans and Drosophilaneurobiology, and age-appropriate experiences, field trips visitors explore the wonders of neuroscience and the inner workings of the brain. The Brain Zone also has hosts an internship program for high student to serve to BrainZone "explainers" and assist with the K-8 interactive projects, as well as the Brain Bee Competition, which is designed to inspire high school students to learn more about the brain and to pursue health-neuroscience related careers.
In 2005, CEHS was awarded an NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) to support a K-12 environmental health science program. A second SEPA grant was awarded in 2012. Environmental health is used as an integrative context for science learning, with a focus on water and air quality issues in the rural West. Special efforts are made to incorporate Native American perspectives and to develop educational materials and lesson plans that are cross-curricular in scope (math, science, language arts, health enhancement). These activities impact over 50 schools in Montana, Idaho and Alaska Two additional NIH grants (awarded in 2007 and
2013) from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences and in 2015 from the Society of Toxicology have supported highly successful summer research and training programs attracting undergraduate students across the country. Students have subsequently presented the results of their studies at various national meetings. These programs are summarized on the Science and Education pages of the CEHS web site.
One of five regional Area Health Education Centers in Montana, the Western Montana Area Health Education Center (WMT-AHEC) is a grant-funded, not-for-profit organization committed to making quality healthcare and health science education more accessible to rural Montanans. Integral to the mission of WMT-AHEC is a strong focus on education and outreach, with the long-term goal of meeting Montana's increasing need for health care professionals. The WMT-AHEC also employs a Healthcare Career Coach and Workforce Coordinator as part of their affiliation with HealthCARE Montana and oversees operation of Missoula WWAMI. Efforts are directed at a wide spectrum of levels, including: K-12, University, and Health Professionals.
Montana HOSA: Future Health Professionals is a Career and Technical Student Organization, operated through the Montana Office of Public Instruction, that allows students an opportunity to explore healthcare careers while building relevant clinical, leadership, and teamwork skills.HOSA students bring classroom learning to life through job shadowing, guest speakers, tours of facilities, and healthcare event competitions. High school and collegiate chapters exist in almost all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Canada, exposing students to medicine and involving them in their communities. Annually, Montana HOSA chapter members provide over 7,000 hours of direct and indirect community service hours. Because of the rural nature of Montana healthcare system, HOSA works closely with the statewide AHEC system (Area Health Education Center) to accomplish its mission.
The "Harkins Fusion" lecture series will entering its 6th year of bringing students and teachers from all three MCPS high schools to campus for an evening lecture and discussion led by a UM faculty scientist. Hosted by BMED, these talks are held 2-3 times each semester and have a strong emphasis on experimental design and the "nuts & bolts" of how a research question is pursued. In this respect there is a strong link to the project-based science classes at each of the MCPS high schools. Speakers have come from a wide range of discipline and departments across campus, including: BMED, Biological Sciences, Anthropology, Ecology, Chemistry and Physics. Initially started as a collaboration with Big Sky science teacher Jim Harkins (for whom the lecture series is now named), the series has equally strong support from science teachers at Sentinel and Hellgate high schools. Typical attendance is about 40-60 students per evening, although recently the lectures have also been attended by a growing number of parents. These lectures have served well to connect Missoula high school science students and teachers with research enterprise at UM.
The University of Montana became a Project Lead the Way (PTLW) affiliate in 2014. PLTW is the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering and math programs for students in grades K-12. This partnership reinforces the University’s and College's support for STEM education and its dedication to providing high-quality educational opportunities for Montana students and teachers. The College of Health and, in particular, BMED are affiliated with the PLTW Biomedical Sciences program and will host curricular training session for participating high school science teachers. PLTW Biomedical Science is a hands-on, project-based sequence of four courses that allows high school students to study and investigate concepts of human medicine, physiology, genetics, microbiology and public health – learning content in the context of real-world cases. Students explore the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease; work collaboratively to understand and design solutions to the most pressing health challenges; and study the many diverse career opportunities in health sciences.