DoD STARBASE: Keep Moving Forward


What do you get when you mix a handful of knowledgeable volunteers, some principles, theories and laws, rocket materials, and a group of bright-eyed, young students? The annual STARBASE Camp has come to the North Carolina Air National Guard Base at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport June 18-21, 2018 with more than twenty 4th, 5th, and 6th graders having the opportunity to learn exciting science, technology, engineering, and math applications that will help them launch a rocket and hopefully, ideas for their future.

“We [the North Carolina Air National Guard] were one of the first three bases to spearhead the STARBASE program in 1993 and I’ve been involved with it since 1994 then transitioned to Director in 2008 after Brig. Gen. James Emerson stepped down. STARBASE has been to 99 counties in North Carolina and we have one more to go,” said Barbara Miller, director of the North Carolina STARBASE Program. 
Founded in Detroit, MI in 1989, STARBASE, originally named Project Stars, was created by Barbara Koscak as a means to expose at-risk youth to a technological environment and positive role models. Koscak approached Brig. Gen. David Arendts, former commander of the 127th Fighter Wing, with her idea and with his blessing, the program commenced at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. In 1993, U.S. Congress appropriated funds to officiate the Department of Defense STARBASE program which would spread throughout the country.

“I’m just finishing up my second year and I think this program is amazing. The students stay so engaged, even the students who, teachers tell us, don’t always show interest in school. Every time we come out there’s always something for them to get interested in. As teachers, this is what we always want is to see kids get so excited about learning,” said Robin Henson, North Carolina STARBASE program instructor.

Nearly thirty years later, the program has grown to encompass at least 30 states and Puerto Rico, with at least 60 locations across the U.S. Kansas leads with five different STARBASE spots. North Carolina has two; one in Charlotte and one at Kure Beach near Ft. Fisher National Guard Base. The programs run off active, guard, and reserve Air Force Bases, Army Guard bases, and one Marine Base. STARBASE has served more than one million students since its start in 1993 and continues to grow exponentially each year. 

“I think it’s a really productive program because you lose your knowledge in some subjects in the middle of the year and it teaches you some things that will keep you ahead for the next year,” said Louis Helms, son of U.S. Air Force Maj. Jeanie Helms, 145th Comptroller Flight commander.

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Posted June 2018