News: Shooting for the stars with STARBASE
Story by Spc. Steven Bennett
DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. – “Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Blast off!” shouted a class of students as they watched the last rocket launch high into the sky above them June 12 at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. The students attended Peach State STARBASE, a summer camp geared toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Peach State STARBASE works in collaboration with The Georgia National Guard State Youth Program to offer the camp to dependents of service members and Department of Defense employees June 9-12 and June 23-26. Thirty spots were available this year for both iterations of the camp for children age 10 through 12.
“The whole purpose of this program is to get these kids excited and engaged in learning,” said John McKay, director of Peach State STARBASE. “We’re trying to give them a foundation for success.”
The program exposes students to real-world applications of STEM principles through simulations, experiments and practical exercises.
During the 25-hour curriculum, the children are immersed in a technological environment and given examples of role models and career paths through the involvement of the Georgia National Guard.
“Collaborating with the National Guard is essential,” said McKay. “The National Guard Soldiers that volunteer to help us at STARBASE serve as viable role models for the kids. By showing students these citizen-Soldiers and their career paths, it’s showing these children that they can give back to their country in a positive way.”
The classes are taught by certified personnel and cover a variety of topics ranging from team-building exercises and drawing team patches, to using a computer-aided design program, flight simulators and Newtonian physics.
“I have the best job in the world,” said Renee “Kitty Hawk” Harrison a program instructor who has taught at STARBASE for five years. “Our goal is to get these kids excited about science, technology, engineering and math. I love seeing the excitement in these kids’ eyes.”
Students who attended STARBASE learned to say no to drugs, work together to solve complex problems and develop the courage to climb up a 30-foot rock wall. The children even learned the benefits of physical training from Georgia National Guard Soldiers.
During Peach State STARBASE, students were taken on tours around Dobbins Air Reserve Base and Clay National Guard Center. Students also explored a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
When parents arrived to pick their children up from their last day of STARBASE, they were treated to a graduation ceremony. The children presented their team banners and mottoes to parents.
“Best Pilot” awards were handed out to the students that successfully flew flight simulators from Dobbins Air Reserve Base to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Col. Mark A. London, director of Georgia National Guard’s Soldier and Family Services, presented graduates with certificates and a commemorative pin.
“You’ve made your parents proud," said London, as he addressed the students. “You’ve made me and this school proud as well.”
The Georgia National Guard State Youth Program and Peach State offer the summer camp annually in hopes that families of service members and DOD employees will be able to participate in summer activities. Those involved with the program encourage parents to take advantage of a positive community outreach program that teaches kids to be excited about STEM and teamwork.