What is Tech4Good@SKC?

Tech4Good@SKC creates experiences.

Tech4Good experiences are opportunities for college students and area youth to explore careers in art, science, and technology-related fields, build technical and artistic skills, and work together to meaningfully solve local community challenges. We do this by having SO MUCH FUN!

Tech4Good@SKC (T4G@SKC) is really about having fun exploring, playing around, being creative, and being inspired by others who make and create and use tech to do amazing things.

These activities maximize each person’s and our collective community strengths, working together to develop our collective impact. Native Role Models throughout the Flathead Community and around the world co-create these experiences with young people in the Flathead, having serious fun through Science, Tech, and Art.

Each year Flathead Tech4Good hosts a variety of partner-enabled and student-led programs and events that allow Salish Kootenai College to amplify their impact on the community in focused ways.


This year, our programs include:

Gaming the Future

Gaming the Future is our annual year-long project that takes place over three weekends of intensive collaboration, called “game jams,” occurring in the fall, winter, and spring. During game jams, community members, SKC students, and area high school students work with local experts to identify and storyboard the relevant issues surrounding a specific challenge theme, which is chosen by the Flathead Tech4Good Advisory Committee at the beginning of each program year. We then brainstorm and present possible solutions involving art, science, and technology. These solutions are ideally prototypes, such as games, apps, etc, but we welcome outside-the-box thinking. By the end of the first game jam, our goal is to have a working prototype that addresses the community challenge. At the winter and spring game jams, we discuss the prototype with our partners, gather feedback from experts, and refine our product through play testing and discussion. At the conclusion of Gaming the Future, we present our final product to our partners as a gift that will help solve or raise awareness about an important community challenge.

                                                                                                            SKC FT4G Gaming the Future Design Process

Afterschool Workshop Series

Flathead Tech4Good will be hosting a variety of afterschool workshops for area 8-12th graders and SKC students. Students will develop technical skills such as computer programing, graphic design, media design, and more. These workshops will provide valuable experience and help students develop skills and confidence to pursue various career and educational opportunities.

FT4G Mentors Program

This year, Flathead Tech4Good is piloting a guided mentorship program that connects SKC students with local 8-12th graders. SKC students will provide positive role models, examples of success, and one-on-one skill development opportunities. Mentorship pairs may also have the opportunity to work with local organizations on projects involving art, science, and technology. We are also planning several Tech4Good field trips through the Mentors Program. More news to follow!

Native American Summer Tech Camp

During the summer, we host multiple four-day camps where high school students get hands on instruction in technology-related skills such as coding, media design, game design, and web development. These camps are a great opportunity for students to explore possible career paths in technology-related fields and build their technical skillsets.

Connecting Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science through codesign & XR on the Flathead Indian Reservation

Since 2016, faculty in the Digital Design Technologies Program at Salish Kootenai College have conducted three years of co-design with area 7th – 12th graders, tribal college students, and expert tribal community members committed to solving local challenges through science, design, and computer programming workshops, problem solving, digital storytelling, art, game design, field trips, virtual reality experiences, and social media marketing. This group, known as “Flathead Tech4Good” has created numerous board games, videos, social media, story narratives, flyers, posters, and design ideas for solving local community challenges.

In 2016 – 2017, Flathead Tech4Good began their first year-long Community Challenge theme of “Food Sovereignty”. By the end of that first year, the group, led by students attending Glacier Lake School and Polson Public Schools had co-created a board game with the Tech4Good partners called “Feast or Famine”.

In 2017 – 2018, the Community Challenge theme was “Water is Life!” and participants engaged with the Flathead Lake Biological Station and the Watershed Education Network as community experts to co-design together both a card game and a board game based on combating aquatic invasive species.

In 2018 – 2019, to be inclusive of the partners from the first two years (food and water) the co-design Challenge Theme has been “Community Health” and the Tech4Good partnership expanded to include an animal/human health board game, a student science fair, augmented reality school community gardens, and almost a dozen classrooms doing a “Tech Challenge” that has them design Rube Goldberg contraptions-as-interpretations of local datasets about food, water, people, or animals.

This ongoing Action Research project to discover “what works” for community members of the Flathead Reservation – particularly young people – to access and meaningfully engage in co-design efforts around pressing challenges faced by the community has led to applying science, technology, engineering, and math expertise within a variety of cultural problem-based contexts.

The real focus on design is the cultural contexts and critical inquiry within which these projects have been situated – making sure we demonstrate the connections between indigenous culture and western science and technology in the right way – making sure we get permissions and work with elders throughout the community before creating media that deigns to “represent” the culture of their people.

Tech4Good@SKC’s plans for next year’s 2019 – 2020 Community Challenge Theme is Climate Change, including the nine (9) sectors of community-based data T4G’s seeking to engage students and the community in partnership with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe’s Climate Change Advisory Committee – next year’s expert partners.

For this coming year, we are seeking to ask 2 Research Questions:

Research Question 1: What kinds of engagement leads to most meaningful co-design learning opportunities for STEM students to apply their emerging expertise?

Research Question 2: What approaches are best for the Salish, Pend Oreille, and Kootenai people to integrate their cultural knowledge with western science to solve complex, pervasive challenges such as food sovereignty, community health, and climate change? A particular focus of this community effort has been on finding ways to intentionally connect traditional indigenous knowledge and western science.

It’s important to work with elders and community leaders to determine what / how to share cultural knowledge with the public (i.e. media design)?

Tech4Good@SKC project leaders have created a Community-based Co-Design model to complement the Flathead Reservation community’s cultural traditions following the seasons and living as part of the lands of western Montana. They are currently working with tribal leaders and culture committees to get feedback and hope to work with their blessing & integrated ideas in future Challenge Years. 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3217/978-3-85125-657-4-31