STARBASE is in danger

Norine Coffin, Minot

As of two weeks ago, an awesome educational program in our community has been placed in an uncertain future. The program is called DoD STARBASE, as it is funded by the Department of Defense. DoD STARBASE is a program for fifth-grade students which encourages and motivates them in science, technology, engineering and math, commonly referred to as STEM. Our local program is called STARBASE North Dakota and is located on Minot Air Force Base. It is one of 76 DoD STARBASE sites across the nation that are in danger of losing their funding. STARBASE North Dakota will finish its fifth year of service to all fifth-grade students in Minot Public Schools and 11 other school districts across the state. The fifth-grade students attend STARBASE North Dakota with their teacher for a total of five days.

This unique educational experience expands upon the math and science content that all Minot teachers teach, and are required to teach for North Dakota standards. Every activity is academically based, and exposes the students to develop cutting edge technology skills that our public schools do not have access to at this time. The “hands-on” nature of the activities encourages all of the students to actively engage in the learning process as their motivation increases in these important academic areas.

In addition to the “hands-on” lessons, the students are exposed to a variety of possible STEM careers through guest speakers and tours of Minot Air Force Base facilities. This experience provides a visible connection between the content the students learn in the classroom and the “real world” application. In the five years that Minot Public Schools has partnered with Minot Air Force Base, the students and parents have enjoyed this unique and stimulating learning opportunity through STARBASE North Dakota. As their teacher, I have found STARBASE to be one of the best learning experiences that may ever come their way.

STARBASE is 100 percent academically based. It exposes students to new technology and engineering, exciting math and science activities and possible career choices. it is a win-win academic situation for this community.

Please contact Senator Hoeven, Senator Heitkamp and Congressman Cramer immediately and urge them to continue funding STARBASE North Dakota through the Department of Defense. We need to preserve this outstanding program for all the fifth-graders to come for many years.