Our mission is to provide hands-on learning experiences in science and technology that inspire creativity, innovation, and lead to real-world application.
Our vision is a society of individuals encouraged to be curious, think critically, and innovate; enabling them to understand and thrive in the changing world around them.
Montana Science Center was originally founded as the Children's Museum of Bozeman in 2001 by a group of parents and community leaders who recognized that enriching, experiential learning opportunities are central to the education and growth of all children. In the past 20 years, MSC has grown into one of the city’s main family attractions. MSC has created a community by focusing on learning through play with interactive exhibits, engaging science classes, and educational programs throughout the year. What began as a grass-roots effort to create an informal, interactive educational resource for the community’s children has grown into a full-fledged museum facility with interesting experiences, engaging programs, and a professional staff.
We understand that children make profound meaning from direct experience, and facilitating pathways for hands-on exploratory learning for real world problem solving is the mission of the Science Center. Budding scientists, engineers and inventors can spark curiosity through interactive engagement in many ways through the Montana Science Center.
Increasingly, students need access to high-tech tools and materials in order to take their place in a fast paced, technology-driven world. MSC opened the high-tech makerspace STEAMlab in 2015, offering personally relevant project-based learning opportunities to kids ages 7 and up with the aim of bolstering interest and expertise in 21st century skills. Since it’s opening, students have come to the STEAMlab to learn how to design in 3D, code robots, play collaboratively in Minecraft, complete projects with a laser cutter and more. Students discover tools in the STEAMlab that allow them to develop critical thinking, creativity and problem solving. Projects in the STEAMlab encourage students to envision themselves with skills for real world challenges. The STEAMlab is also the foundation for MSC’s outreach programs with the STEAMTruck, piloted in Summer 2021, that strives to reach students and adults in rural communities by bringing high-tech materials directly to them.
With the success of the STEAMlab, Montana Science Center’s board of directors participated in a “revisioning” process in 2017 that allowed them to reconnect with the most frequent visitors, past board members and community members to address a declining visitation in the overall museum, but increasing visitation in the STEAMlab. Through this revisioning process, the Children’s Museum of Bozeman recognized it’s full potential as the Montana Science Center. Still a place for play and imagination, but one focused on the values of the community - enhanced engagement and learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.
In January of 2020, families were welcomed into a new location nearly double the size of the previous location. In this new location, families are able to discover new topics of science like Dangerous Nature, the universe, building and engineering. With a frequently rotating collection of interactive exhibits, families with children of all ages can explore together in order to spark curiosity and learn through play. The exhibit floor also hosts a Science Station featuring activities and experiments to take learning further. It frequently features “long term” experiments such as bacteria cultures, live plants, mushroom habitats and worm composting to engage families over a series of visits. Each of these activities aims to engage families in meaningful discussions of STEM topics over an activity.
In addition to the numerous place-based activities and opportunities, MSC grew into various virtual avenues during the COVID pandemic in 2020. During a nearly 6-month closure, MSC staff worked tirelessly to reach families at a time when they needed interaction the most. From this stressful time came several online video series such as 30 Seconds in STEM featuring local STEM professionals and Science at Home, a science cooking series led by youth. Additionally, MSC began reaching families in their home with Science at Home STEAMkits. MSC was able to learn many techniques to encourage at-home learning in STEAM during difficult times when formal schooling was unpredictable.
In uncertain times, families have been able to rely on Montana Science Center for quality, engaging opportunities in STEM topics regardless of their ability to pay or mode of delivery. The 2020 COVID pandemic taught science centers all over the country that they could create sustainable programs in a pivoting world. Montana Science Center is no different. As the organization launches into its 20th year in 2021, enhanced science education through play is the foundation of creating opportunities for students to discover STEM careers and learn to understand the world around them.