DVIDS – News – Fort Drum to Support STEM Education for Students with DoD STARBASE Academy

FORT DRUM, NY (July 19, 2021) – It may sound like science fiction, but the educational opportunities are real.

Fort Drum recently received Department of Defense approval to set up a STARBASE stationed academy for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

DoD STARBASE is a premier educational program sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Workforce and Reserve Affairs, aimed at challenging students with ‘hands-on and mental’ STEM activities, while exploring diverse and critical career areas.

“By engaging this generation of students in STEM education, we can help pave the way for the next generation of critical thinkers and innovators our country needs to be successful,” said Brig. Gen. (P) Milford H. Beagle Jr., 10th Mountain Division (LI) and commander of Fort Drum. “At the same time, it gives us another opportunity to be positive role models and inspire the younger members of our communities.”

More than 70 military installations across the United States support the DoD STARBASE program, with more than 90,000 students participating each year. Fort Drum is the first facility in New York State to host DoD STARBASE.

“This is a game changer for students and educators in our communities,” said Sharon Addison, director of Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “This is a huge victory for Fort Drum and the North Country, and we are very grateful for the opportunity to support this DoD program.”

Currently, 14 North Country school districts have signed up to participate in STARBASE Academy in Fort Drum, and the program has been approved by Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) leaders, district superintendents and New York State elected officials during the nomination process.

Fort Drum School Liaison Wendy O’Sullivan said the facility was eligible to apply for the DoD STARBASE because the North Country fulfills the mandate of supporting Title 1 schools students.

“The program harmoniously blends the goals and objectives of Fort Drum with the learning goal standards and strategic plans of school districts,” she said. “STARBASE is a true education partners initiative, as it strengthens the bond between the community and the military installation, while providing STEM educational experiences to students and teachers in a hands-on, high-tech environment based on discovery and investigation.

The initiative focuses on teaching in grade five, with a peer-reviewed curriculum designed to improve STEM knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. The program engages students through the inquiry-based curriculum with experiential activities. It can also serve as an outreach program to increase awareness of STEM education in upstate New York school districts.

“Barbara Koscak, the founder of STARBASE, conducted research that found that grade five was the best grade to target for this program,” said O’Sullivan. “She’s been traveling across the United States, attending teacher, superintendent, and specialty workshops, and they all said, ‘Create your program for fifth graders.'”

DoD STARBASE was developed in 1991 and has been funded by DoD since 1993. In fiscal year 2019, the performance of participating students in physics, chemistry, and mathematics improved by 36%, 32%, and 19%, respectively. In addition, there was an improvement in attitude towards the military among 80 percent of the students.

“The DoD STARBASE 2018-2019 program was successful in achieving its primary goals, as measured by assessing students’ attitudes and knowledge about STEM before and after participating in the program,” said O’Sullivan. “This has produced measurable changes in students’ positive attitudes towards STEM subjects, and these positive attitudes are likely to be useful in encouraging the pursuit of STEM learning throughout their academic careers.”

Addison said the concept is to host a minimum of 60 classes per year (about 30 students per class), each receiving 25 hours of interactive instruction, hands-on activities and specialized on-site tours. The schedules will be adapted between the STARBASE Academy and the school districts. Bus transportation to and from the academy will be provided by the schools.

While the intention is to serve primarily disadvantaged and underserved students in school districts, the STARBASE program will also be available to parish school students and homeschooled families.

“Every fifth grader will have this opportunity to participate in this ‘hands-on, mental’ STEM program,” Addison said.

The Academy, located in Bldg. 1029 on Lewis Avenue, will undergo more than $ 1 million in renovations, in part thanks to DoD funding. The building has two dedicated classrooms, with potential for a third. It is conveniently located near the 10th Mountain Division (LI) training and simulation facilities, as well as other sites that could provide educational, historical and military experiences for students.

The STARBASE Academy is scheduled to open in spring 2022.

“We are excited to partner with DoD and our school districts to shape the potential of our next generation to discover individual gifts and talents,” Addison said. “The STARBASE Academy will allow them to explore career opportunities they might never have considered, especially after leaving the COVID lockdown. “

To learn more about STARBASE, visit www.dodstarbase.org.

Date taken: 07/19/2021
Date posted: 07/19.2021 11:21
Story ID: 401177
Location: FORT DRUM, NY, United States

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Jennifer Schuman

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