by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
10/26/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- A
new program aimed at getting area students excited about science,
technology, engineering and math, or STEM, will soon be opening its
doors here. The Department of Defense initiative, called STARBASE, will
begin teaching fifth grade students within an approximately 30-mile
radius of the base in November.
Hanscom's site will be the first in Massachusetts and one of nearly 80
program locations spread across the country. Although the program
targets Title I schools and at-risk youth, officials here say all
schools can benefit by sending their children to learn more about STEM.
"STARBASE is first and foremost a STEM enrichment program for youth,"
said Dr. Peter Holden, Hanscom STARBASE director. "The national program
leverages the technical and educational resources available on military
bases. Hanscom is a great place to situate a program like this because
of our proximity to premier academic, educational and research
institutions. We can and will draw on those resources."
Holden's comments echo the purpose of STARBASE. The vision statement
affirms: "To raise the interest and improve the knowledge and skills of
at-risk youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics which
will provide for a highly educated and skilled American workforce that
can meet the advanced technological requirements of the Department of
The program's curriculum is geared toward fifth grade students. School
groups come to Hanscom for five, five-hour days, spread out over
approximately five weeks. Participating school districts provide
transportation for their students, but they are not charged for the
"When we visited STARBASE Atlantis in Newport (R.I.), the instructors
were telling us about how excited the students were to come each week,"
said Cindy Bell, one of two Hanscom STARBASE instructors. "In fact, some
of the teachers use STARBASE as a motivator for other subjects, by
telling the students they won't be able to attend unless they get their
other homework finished."
Staff at the STARBASE Atlantis location are serving as mentors for the Hanscom site.
As students attend the program, they learn about Bernoulli's Principle,
Newton's laws, states of matter and more. The facility provides
classroom space on one side and a computer lab area on another. The
building is also equipped with two 3-D printers.
"Students can use a program on the computer to design something as
simple as a key chain or complex as an engine," said Bell. "Then they
send it to the 3-D printer and it actually creates the product. It's
Holden and his staff also plan to offer camps in the summer and eventually branch out to offer teacher professional development.
"The idea is to get kids excited about science and math," said Bell.
"Fifth grade is a critical time to keep students interested in these
The instructors will use interactive methods to help the children build
rockets, navigate maps, design vehicles and then return to their own
schools ready to learn more.
"The curriculum and the learning environment at DoD STARBASE capitalize
on science and math applied to everyday situations using military base
resources and personnel," the STARBASE brochure states. "By exposing
youth to the technological environments and positive role models found
on military bases and installations, we will provide 20 to 25 hours of
exemplary instruction, using a common core curriculum that meets or
exceeds the national standards."
Anyone interested in learning more about or volunteering at Hanscom
STARBASE may call (781) 367-6041. Further information can also be found