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| September 2021 |

NASA Awards a $360,000 Grant to Montana Learning Center

NASA has awarded a $360,000 grant to the Montana Learning Center (MLC) at Canyon Ferry Lake in Helena, Mont. to continue funding its education and outreach for an additional four years. The award will support a variety of the Learning Center’s programs, and will take effect January 1, 2022. 

The MLC received this award as a partner of the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pathways (NESSP) at Central Washington University. NESSP’s mission is to provide NASA-themed STEM activities to underserved students throughout the Northwest. Earlier this year, NASA awarded a $90,000 NESSP grant to the MLC to connect Montana students and teachers with cutting-edge NASA science and improve students’ and teachers’ STEM skills.

NASA has long been a supporter of the MLC, providing funds for a variety of programs that not only encourage engagement with STEM professionals, but also help students develop their collaboration and communications skills, hone their strategic and tactical planning, implementation and documentation abilities, and build other skills necessary for success in today’s educational and work environments.

Funds will support the MLC’s efforts in five key areas, including the acclaimed Montana Aerospace Scholars program, online training for Montana K-12 science teachers, teacher training to operate the MLC’s remote telescope, a two-day NASA Student Robotics Challenge workshop for middle and high school teachers, and a partnership with Montana libraries to offer patrons a unique citizen science opportunity.

  • Montana Aerospace Scholars: The Montana Aerospace Scholars program was developed by the University of Washington and Museum of Flight to encourage interest in aerospace fields among high school sophomores and juniors. Montana students can earn college credits online through UW and then complete an on-site residency at the MLC.
  • Online Montana Science Teacher Standards Training: The grant will provide online training to K-12 science teachers in Montana, with a focus on understanding and implementing NASA science, Next Generation Science Standards, and three-dimensional science teaching in the classroom. 
  • Online Science Teacher Remote Telescope Training: MLC offers online remote telescope training to middle and high school science teachers in Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Upon completion, teachers will be able to incorporate the remote telescope into their curriculums and use it to conduct meaningful astronomical research with their students. 
  • NASA Student Robotics Challenges: The MLC will host an on-campus two-day workshop for Montana middle and high school science teachers to learn about and implement the annual NASA Student Robotics Challenges in their classrooms.
  • Citizen Science Program for Libraries: The MLC has developed a citizen science program to partner with libraries across Montana. Participants will collect data about light pollution and provide information to the international database, “Globe at Night.”

These activities are supported by NASA through an agreement with Central Washington University/Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pathway.

For more information, please contact Ryan Hannahoe, Executive Director of the Montana Learning Center, at MontanaLearningCenter@gmail.com or 406-475-3638.

 

The Montana Learning Center at Canyon Ferry Lake offers youth summer camps in a variety of STEM fields, teacher learning opportunities, and the state’s premier astronomy program, featuring the largest public-use telescope in Montana. Montana Learning Center and Montana State University partner to facilitate NASA’s Northwest Earth & Space Science Pathway in Montana, an outreach effort to strengthen aerospace education and outreach. The Center boasts a picturesque lakeside setting, which is ideal for exploring Montana’s geology and night sky.

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