STARBASE graduates local students

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Caitlin Craig, STARBASE Edwards instructor, congratulates Cierra Gibson, a fifth grade STARBASE Edwards graduate and Student Council Vice-President, during the STARBASE graduation ceremony at the Idea Academy at Cottonwood Elementary School in Palmdale, Calif., Oct. 23, 2019. (Air Force photograph by Giancarlo Casem)

Fifth graders from the STARBASE Edwards program were honored during a graduation ceremony at the Idea Academy at Cottonwood Elementary School in Palmdale, Calif., Oct. 23, 2019.

STARBASE Edwards is a joint program between the Department of Defense, the 412th Test Wing at Edwards, local educators, non-profit organizations and industry partners. The goal of STARBASE is to increase children’s interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“Everything that we have done to set up STARBASE … the whole reason everybody is in the room today is about you,” said keynote speaker, Dr. David Smith, the 412th Test Wing Installation Support Director, to the children in attendance. “We want to open that door to you to understand and explore dynamic and cool and interesting things.”

The STARBASE Edwards program is a 25-hour curriculum and allowed the Cottonwood students to come to the base to learn about STEM and a chance to see real-world applications of STEM.

“I don’t know if you’re going to pursue a career as a scientist or an engineer; I don’t know what you’re going to do in your future … what I would like you to do is just remember that your eyes have been opened a little bit to the fact that there are lots of different opportunities out there and some of them deal with STEM,” Smith said.

Keynote speaker, Dr. David Smith, 412th Test Wing installation director, addresses fifth graders from Idea Academy at Cottonwood Elementary School in Palmdale, Calif., during their STARBASE graduation ceremony, Oct. 23, 2019. STARBASE Edwards is a joint program between the Department of Defense, the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, local educators, non-profit organizations and industry partners. The goal of STARBASE is to increase children’s interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. (Air Force photograph by Giancarlo Casem)

Smith also explained that the STARBASE students now have a better understanding of how things work and used the upcoming Antelope Valley Airshow in October 2020 as an example.

“You’re going to look at that airshow just a little bit differently because … we know that when you see that airplane, most people (will say), ‘that’s a really cool airplane,’ you’re going to (say), ‘there’s dynamics of lift that go along with that aircraft and I know why planes are designed that way,’” Smith said.

Amira Flores, the STARBASE Edwards Director, looked forward to be able to return to Cottonwood to continue the partnership between Edwards and the Westside Union School District.

“I’m hoping we get to have all of you again next year, you’ll be a sixth grader, but you can pass on the wonderful information of STEM to the fourth graders who will be fifth graders,” Flores said.