The five-day program sponsored by the U.S. Department of
Defense offers lessons in math, science and technology that supplement what
students are learning in school.
There are two STARBASE programs in West
Virginia, at the 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston
and the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg.
STARBASE is rich with lessons in math, geometry, chemistry
and physics. The students work in groups with Air Force-themed names on
experiments reflective of current military needs.
Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, West Virginia Adjutant General, said
the Defense Department sponsors the program to assure it will have qualified
recruits for a military that’s increasingly dependent on technology.
“We as an organization have to be able to recruit bright and
talented and motivated young men and women to do all kinds of unique things,”
“And we as a nation are struggling with math and science
skills and for us to be able to take STARBASE and hopefully motivate some kids
to be more excited about math and science to understand its significance to day
to day activities as well as significant things like defense of the nation I
think is an important role for us to play,” he said.
Before the holiday break, teachers at STARBASE Martinsburg
greeted students from Orchard View
as they got off the bus and headed into the building where they deposited
belongings in a locker before heading to a classroom.
This was the fourth day for this class and one of the
lessons focused on nanotechnology. Teacher Ashley Spies gave students three
assignments. One involved conducting an experiment to determine which piece of
canvas fabric should be used to make waterproof tents.
During the lesson Spies told the students about the various
products available because of nanotechnology. She mentioned things like
waterproof pants, antibacterial socks, window cleaner that makes the glass
repel water and magic sand, which was invented to help clean oil spills from
Teacher Shannon Boone said the fourth day is usually popular
with the kids because of the afternoon class in engineering.
“What we do with the kids is a little project called Eggbert
in which they have to crash land a raw egg onto the quote, unquote, moon,”
“So they design a safety harness for him after we talk about the
different types of safety harnesses such as seat belts and lap restraints in
roller coasters and kind of relate it to their everyday life.”
Boone said after the students crash their egg, they see if
he survived and if he didn’t they discuss what they could do differently to
better protect the egg.
Jill Livingston, Orchard View teacher, said STARBASE gives
her students the opportunity to participate in activities that aren’t available
in the regular classroom.
“The hands on nature really makes it very stimulating for a
lot of them where they may lose their focus or their interest if they’re just
reading about these concepts in a book,” Livingston
said. “But here they actually get to see a lot of really interesting equipment
and use it so it definitely keeps their interest.”
STARBASE also got good ratings from students.
“It is awesome,” Tanner Rogers said, “because you get to mix
chemicals and you get to play with magic sand, cool stuff like that.”
“I really enjoyed it,” said Matthew Shank. “Yesterday we did
a lot of fun experiments including the tornado tube, the shaving cream thing
where it blew up, blew up marshmallows and stuff, all the other days talking
about gravity, today talking about nano stuff, I’m really impressed about nano
stuff, I really like it.”
Student Nahdiah Redman said she enjoyed doing the
experiments at STARBASE and she learned more than she does studying science at
“We don’t really get into much detail at regular school; we
get into a lot of detail here,” Redman said.
STARBASE Martinsburg offers classes throughout the school
year to fifth grade students in Berkeley and Jefferson counties. STARBASE Charleston is open to all schools within commuting distance of the Air Guard
The Martinsburg STARBASE is also offering a new after school
program at middle schools starting this month.