The staff for the Wyoming STARBASE Academy in Cheyenne, Oct. 20.
Left to right: Shannon Walks, Mark Nowotny, Jessica Ramierez, Germaletta Brown, and Dana Latocha.
DoD STARBASE is a premier educational program, sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. At DoD STARBASE students participate in challenging “hands-on, minds-on” activities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). They interact with military personnel to explore careers and observe STEM applications in the “real world.” The program provides students with 25 hours of stimulating experiences at National Guard, Marine, Air Force Reserve, Army, and Air Force bases across the nation.
DoD STARBASE’s primary focus is the program for fifth graders. The goal is to motivate them to explore STEM opportunities as they continue their education. The academies serve students that are historically under represented in STEM. Students who live in inner cities or rural locations, those who are socio-economically disadvantaged, low in academic performance, or have a disability are in the target group. The program encourages students to set goals and achieve them.
The program engages students through the inquiry-based curriculum with its “hands-on, minds-on”; experiential activities. Each academy chooses a customized curriculum from a large offering of peer-reviewed learning opportunities in each STEM area, such as: Newton’s Laws and Bernoulli’s principle, robotics, and engineering as they use the computer to design space stations, all-terrain vehicles, and submersibles. Math is embedded throughout the curriculum and students use metric measurement, estimation, calculation geometry, and data analysis to solve questions. Teamwork is stressed as they work together to explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate concepts.
Military volunteers apply abstract principles to real-world situations by leading tours and giving lectures on the use of STEM in different settings and careers. Since the academies are located in different branches of the military this experience is highly
varied. Students may discuss how chemical fires are extinguished, learn how injured are transported, or explore the cockpit of an F-18 or the interior of a submarine.
The academies work with school districts to support their standards of learning objectives. A teacher whose class attended DoD STARBASE stated, STARBASE teaches science and math in ways that we wish we had the time, resources, and expertise to do in the regular classroom. It’s experiential, exploratory learning with a direct tie to the Standards.