Our recent MosSE tour stop brought us 540 miles from Missoula along the Hi-Line to Culbertson, MT, at the very eastern border with North Dakota. To put that distance in perspective, a 540-mile drive would take you from Washington, DC to Portland, ME!
Culbertson is a small Montana farming and ranching town, and now an oil boom town, with a population of a little under 1,000. The town’s centennial marker outside the library reads: “1887-1997 And Still Growing,” words that ring particularly true with the recent influx of people streaming into the Bakken region for jobs on the oil patch.
Culbertson may be a small town, but it has a big spirit. The Culbertson Cowgirls and Cowboys are involved in pretty much any activity you can think of, from Future Farmers of America to forensics. Of particular interest to us, the school also has a thriving Science Olympiad team.
During our visit we saw the entire school, 255 students in all, from the exuberant kindergarteners to the bright high school seniors. We knew we were doing something right when we walked down the hallway and the students all excitedly waved and told us how they were coming to Family Science Night.
The community turned out in full force for Family Science Night, which included a Science Olympiad Team bake sale, 143 kids and parents, and even live music from some talented high school pianists. The bake sale raised money for the team to buy t-shirts for their club and help to cover the costs to compete in the upcoming Bozeman tournament.
PTC paper at the senses station proved to be a big hit as kids roped their parents into a genetic taste test to see if they had the genes to detect a bitter flavor. As always, visual rebound attracted the crowds as waves of kids sent basketballs flying into the air while experimenting with brain plasticity. Live brain dissections every half hour also drew large crowds. We had the opportunity to lead hands-on brain dissections, and every kid and parent who wanted a chance to try their hand at being a brain surgeon had an opportunity to make a few cuts of their own.
Hopefully the Culbertson Cowboys and Cowgirls continue to stay passionate and engaged in science, because the kids from this award-winning Future Farmers of America school are going to make great future scientists in America!
This tour stop was powered by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.