Our Mission is to encourage a lifelong interest in science and technology, to connect with families through educational experiences, and to nurture a culture of curiosity in our community.
Who They Are and What They Do
Anyone who walks into the Children’s Museum of Bozeman can’t help but be infected with a childlike curiosity, imagination, and excitement. From a giant bubble maker, to a mini barn, to a life-sized farm horse, there are so many engaging exhibits that are not only fun to look at, but are interactive! The Children’s Museum provides a space for those of all ages to learn, explore, and simply have fun. As a museum, it houses various exhibits, some of which are imaginative – think the barn with chicken eggs inside – others that are hands-on and playful, such as slime kits, and all of which are opportunities for learning. Beyond these exhibits, the museum hosts events and programs for further learning including summer camps, after-school activities, and an original program called STEAM Connections.
STEAM Connections and BACF
A few levels down from the main floor, separated from the rest of the museum’s buzzing activity in a side room that is both professional and playful, is the STEAMlab. Once inside the lab, one gets the feeling they are in a hybrid science lab-slash-conference room. A table sits in the middle with a screen on the far wall for walking students through the curriculum. Along the walls are counters, cupboards, and stools where kids can work. One of these counters houses the 3D printer where computer-based creations come to life. While walking through and exploring the lab, there are dinosaur skeletons, hearts, and Lego pieces on display, all of which were designed and created by students. Like other programs and activities hosted by the Museum, the STEAMlab is an opportunity for kids to experience hands-on, exploratory learning that is simultaneously fun, engaging, and applicable to the real world.
STEAM Connections is a program the Children’s Museum designed as a way of reaching out to a larger, more diverse population to provide them with the opportunity to experience the STEAMlab. With the funding received from the Bozeman Area Community Foundation, they have been able to host classrooms of 4th-6th graders on field trips organized by teachers. Due to limited funding and the extensive time and effort required to orchestrate them, field trips can result in a heavy load for teachers.
That’s why the Children’s Museum has stepped in and offered the incredibly valuable service of making these fun, substance-based field trips happen. Museum staff lead STEAM sessions, engineer the curriculum, and provide the necessary tools. They have even enlisted the help of local students from Montana State University’s tech club, many of whom are education majors and aspiring teachers. In just 2-3 hours, kids build something hands-on, such as a catapult, learn how to solve a problem on a computer, and then create that same thing with a 3D printer using what they have learned. It requires critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, the perfect demonstration of how science and art really do fit together.
Back in 2014 when the STEAMlab first opened, they served over 4,000 participants. It was an innovative approach to providing educational opportunities outside of a traditional school setting and it clearly resonated with the community. By incorporating technology tools and familiarizing students with the high sciences in a manner that is still exciting and playful, the Museum is supplementing education and inspiring kids to think differently and creatively. In 2017, the program grew overall by 300%, demonstrating that there was a need and desire in the community for a safe, fun, and accepting environment where kids could learn relevant skills. It has been the pleasure of the Bozeman Area Community Foundation to promote the growth of this program, allowing for entire classrooms to experience the STEAMlab for free and lowering the barriers that prevent access to high-tech materials and learning.
The Children’s Museum of Bozeman is always welcoming volunteers to help with the many events they have going on everyday. If you would like to be a part of their vibrant team you can connect with them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (406) 522-9087.