Motion on the Rocky Mountain Front

Hello, MosSE readers!

Can you explain the physics of  flight?  What type of motion stabilizes flight and can turn topsy turvy into stable soaring? MosSE explored these questions of physics, engineering, and the technology when our Motion exhibit visited  246 students in Browning, MT,  the largest community of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, this spring.

Flight is simplytug-of-war When lift exceeds the force of gravity and thrust overcomes the friction of air molecules (called drag), we soar!


Browning Middle Schoolers explore flight with MosSE’s Bernoulli blower. The blower demonstrates the phenomenon of lift. Fast moving air create lower pressure, causing the ball to float!


With Motion student’s curiosity and excitement ignite. Our exhibits encourage inquiry and students can seek their own answers.  Scientist are created in the opportunity to simply ask “What happens if we….”


MosSE’s hands-on exhibits encourage students to observe and seek answers. “What’s happening here?”  we  ask. At the Bernoulli blower, students observe the erratic  movements and fluctuating flight pattern of a ball.

Next, students design wings to stabilize  flight with our Flying Cups Exhibit. First, they toss paper cuts over a fan–no surprises yet! Then, they cut the cups to create wings.  With their expanded surface area, the cups float gracefully over our heads.

“It needs to spin!”  they decide, recalling the strong stabilizing force of  angular momentum we explored earlier.

Soon their flying cups are soaring 20 ft above our fan, spinning like a top and landing gently and right-side up.



MosSE  brings this same  level of excitement to the incredible opportunities held in STEM careers. For Motion, we use our ever-popular airplane flight simulator to explore some of the exciting career possibilities in physics and technology!

Set up to fly out of Browning’s own Starr Airport, 7th and 8th graders investigated their own backyard: the Rocky Mountain Front. They were having a blast but also mimicking the way researchers today gather remote imagery data in this stunning and complex landscape.

For many, the  field of remote imagery was new and exciting!  We look forward to many more Motion tour stops with MosSE!


This stop was powered by the Montana GEAR UP Program, which believes that postsecondary education is possible for all Montana students, regardless of economic background. We give special thanks to Melanie Magee, GEAR UP coordinator at Browning Middle School. Melanie believes that spectrUM’s MosSE program fosters this possibility for  all her students!   We were so honored to bring the excitement and possibilities of Motion to Browning.

Thanks for stopping in readers!  Check back soon to see where we’re U’haulin’ next!



Seeley Lake Discovery Days

spectrUM had the honor of being invited to the Seeley Lake Discovery Days this year.


The Discovery Days’ theme this year was plasticity and boy, did spectrUM ever have some fun activities to share around this theme. Neuroplasticity  refers to how –and in what ways–the brain changes over the course of a lifetime. We led brain dissections, explored optical illusions, played games about neuron communication, and compared mammalian (and cockroach!) brain sizes. All and all, we explored the wonders of the brain with 110 Seeley Lake high schoolers. We hope to come again next year! Thanks for inviting us, Seeley Lake!