Innovate Montana Symposium

By Nick Wethington, spectrUM museum manager

On July 13th, spectrUM staff along with Corvallis Middle School Librarian Vic Mortimer and spectrUM partner Steve Decker traveled to Billings, MT for the Governor’s Innovate Montana Symposium. Bringing together entrepreneurs, makers, and innovators from across the state, the symposium provided a space to collaborate, share ideas, and get inspired about innovation in Montana.

A highlight of the visit was  GoldieBlox founder and CEO Debbie Sterling’s living-room interview with Governor Steve Bullock. Their conversation ranged from her struggles as an entrepreneur in the early phase of building her company, to her achievements and her company’s future. Sterling alluded to the possibility of a cartoon series featuring the main character of many of the engineering design sets, Goldie. We had the pleasure of seeing Gov. Bullock and Sterling speak in front of a large crowd as well as in a more intimate setting with a troop of Girl Scouts.

Our group was particularly interested in the Meeting Montana’s Makers part of the symposium. This all-day event featured booths and demonstrations from makerspaces, libraries, and student groups from around the state, each hosting activities and short presentations related to making, tinkering, and technology.

Vic Mortimer had this to say about the presentations:

I was particularly struck by the presentations that kids made: the F1 builders from Harlem, for example, and the Fusion 4133 robotics group from Helena. It’s clear that, with some support and mentoring, kids can get hooked on tinkering and making.

I have to agree that it was inspiring to see such young kids so deeply engaged in technology, and also communicating it effectively to adults and their peers or near-peers. Maybe we can present at the next symposium?

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