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Ideas, Thoughts, Perspectives

March 19th, 2014

Starbase Program Makes The Future Brighter For Teens

As a Department of Defense youth program, Starbase, teaches teens on military bases around the country the importance of technological advancements through a rigorous curriculum. The program invests in at-risk teens, taking them off the streets and giving them a healthy outlet to learn. The STEM portion of DOD Starbase focuses on science, technology, engineering and math and has grown to be such an important program it is a priority on President Obama’s agenda because of its educational benefits.

Since the beginning of government funding by the US Congress in 1993, funds for the DOD Starbase have grown with over 76 locations including 4 Native American outreach programs in 40 different states.

Despite potential termination, Starbase has survived financial cuts to see 2014. As the federal budget decreases spending on programs such as these, it has become increasingly difficult to keep STEM alive. According to Starbase, “Strong lobbying from parents and educators from most of the 40 states that have Starbase programs convinced Congress to restore the line item for the program in the Department of Defense budget.” Ranging from 20 to 25 hours for each program, the students learn with specialists from the Air Force, Marines, Navy and the National Guard. Barbara Kozak and Rick Sims originated the Starbase program in Detroit in 1991, and the technology and activities designed for the curriculum then is updated every year as new technologies evolve. Embedded throughout the curriculum, the program focuses on the importance of math as students use metric measurement, estimation, calculation geometry and data analysis to solve questions as a team.

According to Starbase, “The program engages students through the inquiry-based curriculum with its “hands-on, mind-on” experiential activities. They study Newton’s Laws and Bernoulli’s principle; explore nanotechnology, navigation and mapping, Fluid Mechanics and Aerodynamics. Then moving forward the curriculum will dissect matter, chemical and physical changes and atmospheric properties all through hand on activities with some of the top Military specialists in our country.”

Post STEM educational programs include weeklong camps, where former Starbase graduates can further their scientific learning. This past August in Connecticut, 60 East Hartford students participated in a week long camp examining everything from human cheek cells with microscopes, to competing in the FIRST Lego league competition and even being able to fly a Cessna 172 plane. This once in a lifetime opportunity couldn’t be made possible without DOD Starbases’ dedicated volunteers.

“By opening young minds through this tremendous educational program, our nation will no doubt make great strides in the years to come,” said Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., former Chief of the Air Force Reserve. My experience with this program has been extremely positive and I am encouraged by the enthusiasm I see.”

Every Starbase activity is designed to entice the imagination and make students not just aware, but extremely interested. According to Starbase, “Between finding macro- invertebrates in the stream to determine the biotic index to using GPS devices to locate “treasure,” the students were engaged in learning and fun each week. It was not just the students who were sad to see the program end each week. The parents wanted to know how the students can stay involved with the program, the teachers and the STEM education they bring.”

Always teaching the most up to date scientific technologies and innovations, the DOD Starbase program also touches on concepts that encourage successful careers in Engineering, 3-D Computer Aided Design and Data Analysis. According to Starbase, “The exposure is unimaginably beneficial to the teens. They are just captivated.”

With programs like Starbase the future looks brighter for the design world as our countries youth get the educational outlets to learn, design and create. For more information or to volunteer with Starbase check out:

Article Written By: Emma Watson




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