Schriever Airmen Help Grow STEM Passion

Schriever Airmen helped teach science, technology, engineering and math activities during a STARBASE Academy at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, last month.

According to the program's official website, STARBASE is a Department of Defense-funded youth program that teaches children STEM concepts through “hands-on, minds-on” activities.

Youth engaged in a variety of informative classes, learning Newton’s Laws and Bernoulli’s Principle, as well as learning the fundamentals of GPS courtesy of Airmen such as Senior Airman Juan Lucido, GPS satellite system operator and orbital analyst with the 2nd Space Operations Squadron.

“We introduced them to GPS as a military asset, went over the satellites themselves, their orbits and other information,” Lucido said.

He detailed how he was able to simplify GPS concepts in order to make information accessible for his audience.

“Whenever I was introducing a new concept, I would give them (the students) a base idea with a question,” he said. “Such as ‘what do we use GPS for?’ Then, I would get into specifics.”

Teaching classes reminded Lucido of when he was around the same age learning about space, sparking his passion to pursue a career in the field.

“I grew up on Staten Island and we used to have people from the American Museum of Natural History’s astronomy section come into my class and teach us a lot about space,” he said. “Seeing a bunch of space stuff, especially the space shuttle at the museum, really caught my interest.  I’m glad to have received that information at a young age.”

First Lt. Cherron McLemore-Glenn, staff instructor with the 50th Operations Support Squadron, also taught a class highlighting GPS, such as its constellation design, makeup and how atomic frequency standards work on satellites in space.

She said teaching brought back memories of her as a young child with a passion for STEM, active in her elementary school’s engineering club.

“When I was informed about an opportunity to teach other students interested in STEM, I instantly connected with their passion and interest in all STEM had to offer,” she said. “These students were just like myself when I was younger, so it was important to be a positive image to them to help with furthering their interests in STEM areas.”

McLemore-Glenn enjoyed interacting with students and the questions they had to offer, learning a few things herself.

“Young minds are very impressionable, so feed them early and often,” she said. “After teaching a lesson, one of the students came up to me and said that she appreciated seeing another face like hers doing things she wanted to do when she got older. At that moment I understood how important representation was and how the mere presence of these instructors can influence the paths they choose to take later in life.”

STARBASE’s hands-on portion involved activities such as finding a way to roll an egg down a rail and hit a wall without cracking, using actual GPS receivers and constructing satellite models.

Congress first appropriated funds for the program in fiscal 1993 and piloted the program in seven states. STARBASE Academies are now available in more than 38 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Here in Colorado, Lucido said he was delighted at the opportunity to help children become familiar with space concepts, especially GPS.

“Introducing GPS and space into their lives, and being able to share my knowledge promotes their interest in STEM and really gets them excited about space,” Lucido said. “That’s what really drove me to volunteer.”

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Posted March 2018