The DoD STARBASE Program first originated in Detroit, Michigan as Project STARS in 1991. The curriculum, designed by Barbara Koscak and Rick Simms, focused on exposing at-risk youth, (4-6 grade) to innovative hands-on activities in science, technology and mathematics based on the physics of flight. Under the guidance of Brig. Gen. David Arendts, 127th wing commander at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, students were invited to Selfridge to participate and witness the application of scientific concepts in a “real world” setting. National Guard personnel demonstrated the use of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology in their fields of expertise and served as role models to the attending students.
In 1993, the U.S. Congress appropriated funds for DoD STARBASE and piloted the program in seven states. There are now locations spread across the United States and its territories. To date, programs are held at the following locations:
Air Force (10 locations), Air Force Reserve (4 locations), Army (1 location), National Guard (50 locations), and Marine Corps (1 location). Programs now include initiatives for learners of many grade and age levels.
To accommodate the growing demand for additional STEM programs, a structured after school mentoring program, STARBASE 2.0, for middle school students was piloted in 2010 at five locations. The program’s success relies on collaboration between the sponsoring military unit and STARBASE Academy, the school district, and local communities. The goal is for each STARBASE Academy to sponsor a 2.0 program.
DoD STARBASE offers a positive, proven approach to engendering excitement and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
During this decade, employment in science and engineering occupations is expected to increase at almost four times the rate for all occupations.
In the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), U.S. students ranked 17th out of 65 countries in science literacy and 25th out of 65 countries in math literacy.
In the United States less than 10 percent of graduate degrees are conferred in engineering, mathematics and computer science. This places our country 20th internationally in terms of graduate degrees in these critical areas.
The rapid pace of technological change, and globalization of the economy, simply demands that our workforce be literate in science and math.
Less than 1% of current elementary school students will seek advanced education in the sciences.
Students who attend DoD STARBASE Academies increase their knowledge and skills in STEM.
Students who attend DoD STARBASE improve their attitudes about and their confidence in STEM.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The main STARBASE Indiana program is fully funded by the Department of Defense and additional growth and activities are supported by donations to our 501(c)(3) fund. This means there is no cost to the school for the program. We only ask that the school provides transportation and makes sure the students have lunches.
NO, REALLY? WHAT ABOUT HIDDEN COSTS? THERE HAS TO BE A CATCH.
No catch - the entire 5-day, 25-hour intensive STEM program is completely free to the schools. As long as you can get the students here (by big yellow bus, special purpose buses, carpooling parents, wagon train, etc.) with their lunches, we'll take care of the rest. Also, since we consider this to be an extension of the classroom rather than just a field trip, the teacher and a few chaperones need to come along and stay all day to provide support and any necessary discipline (but we take care of most of the teaching and we have a pretty nice coffee maker, so it's usually not much of a hardship).
IS THE PROGRAM JUST FOR 5TH GRADE CLASSES?
The STARBASE Indiana program is designed at the 5th grade level for an entire class (up to 32 students). Unfortunately, due to overwhelming demand for our program, at this point we typically can not accept individual students or students in grades other than 5th. Individual students interested in coming to STARBASE should look into our summer camps - more info about the camps can be found here.
WHAT ABOUT HOMESCHOOL GROUPS?
If a homeschool group can gather together at least 20 students, we might be able to work something out. The students should be primarily in the 5th grade. We strongly recommend that younger siblings are not brought to the program. Please contact us to discuss your unique situation.
DO WE HAVE TO COME FOR ALL 5 DAYS/WEEKS (AND FOR 5 HOURS EVERY DAY)?
Yes. The program builds on itself and we are required to teach a minimum number of hours in each subject area listed above in the Curriculum and Standards section (remember, this counts as a regular school day!). The program can be run either for 5 sequential days (Monday-Friday of a single week) or, more typically, one day a week for 5 weeks. We can be flexible regarding your arrival and departure times, however. Contact us to work out the details.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ASSESSMENT TOOLS BUILT INTO THE PROGRAM?
Yes. At the beginning of Day 1 the students are given a 15-question pre-test and they take a post-test near the end of Day 5. All of their answers are digitally recorded and the data are provided to the teacher so both class averages and individual results can be tracked. Typically we see a doubling of test scores by the end of the program and we find that more students are considering STEM-related careers. However, long-term tracking is difficult so we always appreciate it when teachers share success stories years later.
ARE YOU GOING TO RECRUIT MY CHILD INTO THE MILITARY?
No. Although we are located on a military base, our primary goal is to inspire students to learn more science, technology, engineering and math so that they will someday be able to get good jobs or at least have a better understanding of the world around them so they can make sound, informed decisions. To accomplish this, we introduce the students to a variety of professionals from around the base, such as pilots, firefighters and mechanics but we do not push them towards military careers. We also focus on peaceful applications of STEM such as designing robotic planetary explorers or vehicle crash safety systems.
I HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS NOT ANSWERED HERE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Contact your nearest Academy by phone or email during normal working hours. We would be happy to explain everything to you. During that time you can also arrange for a tour of the STARBASE facilities or request one (or more) of us come to your school to introduce the program to your teachers, students, administration and/or other interested parties. We know we have a fantastic program here and we welcome any opportunity to talk about it.