DOD STARBASE program comes to Edwards

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Air Force photograph by Kenji Thuloweit

Kriss Vanderhyde, Air Force Research Labaratory Det. 7 Education Outreach manager, provides a simple propulsion demonstration following the grand opening of STARBASE at Branch Elementary on Edwards Air Force Base Dec. 7, 2018. The Department of the Defense STARBASE program aims at giving students a hands-on learning experience in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Dec. 7, 2018, at Branch Elementary School, officially opening STARBASE—a Department of Defense Program that focuses students on a hands-on, minds-on approach to science, technology, engineering and math.

The ceremony featured hands-on demonstrations, including a rocket launch, aimed at showing what the students will experience during their week-long classes. DOD STARBASE focuses on elementary students, primarily fifth graders. The goal is to motivate them to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as they continue their education.

“All of the amazing, important things that go on in aerospace and cyberspace are tested, designed and fueled out of here, said Brig. Gen. E. John “Dragon” Teichert, 412th Test Wing commander, to the room full of community leaders and 5th graders. “In order to do those things now, we need to prepare you, and you are all well worth our investment to make sure we stay strong as a nation and that we have the type of brain power that we need to continue on in the future.”

STARBASE academies work in conjunction with local school districts to support their standards of learning objectives. The students learn about physics, aerodynamics, nanotechnology, robotics, navigation and mapping during their coursework.

“STARBASE is so important because if you have the right type of interaction at the right time with a young person, you have the opportunity to shape lives,” said Teichert, “and that is what we are doing here.” The new program at Edwards Air Force Base is tentatively scheduled to begin bringing in students starting February 2019. Annually, the new program will engage nearly 1,000 Kern County fifth graders with its STEM based experiential-approach curriculum. Class programs will consist of 25 hours and students will hear from industrial leaders.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Dr. Melanie Teichert, “We are very excited to share with the whole valley what STARBASE has to offer in teaching our 5th graders about aerospace and science and technology. Classes are free, however, schools must provide transportation for students. There are plans to move the program to the Flight Test Museum when it is complete.

“This is really exciting because even though we have kids from Edwards and around the Antelope Valley, they don’t really know all that goes on here at the base and we want to show them that they can work here and be a part of it,” explained Caitlin Craig who is a math teacher and instructor for STARBASE.