Final Days

Today marks the last day that the BrainLab will be opened.  The Big Sky Brain Project grant is sunsetting and spectrUM is moving to a larger location.  In this exciting new location,  we will incorporate our neuro-activities into existing educational programming and we will have a special “Neuro Nook” housing family-led neuro activities for visitors to engage in.

As the managing scientist responsible for the BrainLab, I am filled with mixed emotions-I am super excited about the opportunities available in spectrUM’s new space but I am also sad that I will not be engaging with our visitors about the brain on a daily basis.  The past 3 days, we’ve had visitors comment about how they had to come in before we closed for awhile-some driving all the way from Kalispell.  Then there are our “repeat” visitors-the ones that come in every week.  I will miss them. I absolutely love hanging out with families, getting to explore scientific concepts with them and just talking and bonding with them.  Thank you, spectrUM and the Big Sky Brain Project, for giving me this wonderful opportunity to engage with my community.

Dr. Amanda Duley

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Belonging

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Landon (left) and Brody, our high school explainers, teaching kids the “Fruit Fly Fun” activity in the BrainLab.

We were doing Fruit Fly Fun the other day in the BrainLab and getting ready to add some flies to 2 kid’s experiments when a new kid comes up to the BrainLab, and pulls up a yellow stool and takes a seat. I guess he is around 7-9 years old and he is wearing a green baseball cap and has dirty blond hair, freckles all over his face with the MT summer bronzed skin. He is wearing an eager expression on his face looking to me to start the conversation when he bursts out, “Hi I’m Kaylan, remember me?” He takes off his baseball hat and holds it above his head so that I can see his face more clearly.  His brown eyes searching my face for some hint of recognition.  I too search his face looking for the same hint of recognition. I find none as he looks like so many of the thousands of kids that I interact with every year. I give him a broad smile-one that reaches my eyes-not because I know him but because this is the whole point of doing what we do at spectrUM. In a world where acting like a kid is frowned upon, spectrUM is that place where acting like a kid is the norm and kids feel that sense of belonging here. Maybe that is why I too fit in so well. “Of course I remember you,” I replied, “How are you doing? Would you like to do this activity with us?” He eagerly agrees and then our new explainer, Brody, continues the exercise while I suck up flies in my fly sucker for the other kids sitting at the BrainLab to do their Fruit Fly Fun experiment.  Some time later, as I was back behind the BrainLab getting supplies out of a bin, Kaylan comes behind the BrainLab and says, “I just wanted to tell you that I’m leaving now.”  “Bye,” I reply, “Come see us again soon.” He’s already walking away at this point but turns his head to say, “I will.”