5th Graders Tour Minot AFB During Summer STEM Program

Jun 20, 2024
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MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. — The Department of Defense sponsored STARBASE program hosted a free and public Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics summer academy for fifth graders to tour Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, from June 10-12. The DoD STARBASE is an educational program sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense and Reserve Affairs.


The students took part in hands-on STEM activities with a military focus to explore careers and observe real world applications. The program supplied students with 25 hours of enriching experiences at more than 80 Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Army, National Guard, Navy, and Space Force bases across the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico.


“DoD studies have shown that about the time a student is in fifth grade, they’re starting to get more serious about what they want to do when they’re done with school,” said Jon Dawson, STARBASE Director for the STARBASE North Dakota program and Minot Public School teacher. “They created the program not to teach ten year olds the mastery of science, but to pique their interest in science.”


Dawson stated that the program’s goal is to develop a highly educated and skilled American workforce who can meet the advanced technological requirements of the DoD. All Minot Public School fifth grade classrooms attend with an average of 600 students from 30 classrooms each year.


“When I was a kid, I was always looking at helicopters and planes flying around and just wanting to know what’s going,” said Airman 1st Class Jacob Young, 54th Helicopter Squadron special mission aviator and STARBASE tour leader. “A lot of kids have a general interest in the military and want to get some questions out.”


Dawson said that some of the academics in the classroom are related to the principles of flight, such as Newton’s three laws of motion, microsoft flight simulator, and allowing the students to fly some indoor drones. The program included a tour of the 54th Helicopter Squadron for a helicopter static display and rescue exercise, visiting the Air Traffic Control Tower, and a B-52H Stratofortress simulator for weapons system training.


One class per school year is given a curriculum based pre- and post- test. The classroom for school year 2022-23 had a 21 percent gain in knowledge. By introducing young people to the opportunities available within the DOD, the STARBASE Program inspires the next generation of American servicemen and women.

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