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Learning science by doing STARBASE program emphasizes hands-on education

Starbase

MARTHA K. SEAGLE
Staff Writer

Fifth-grade students at North Brook Elementary are getting a hands-on look at science and math this week.

They are participating in STARBASE, a week-long program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense to boost student confidence in math and science through this hands-on approach.

Students were rotating among several classrooms Tuesday to participate in a variety of assignments led by STARBASE volunteers from the Charlotte STARBASE site.

In Ms. Powell’s class, students were analyzing maps of Washington, D.C., and the big island of Hawaii. Using the map of the nation’s capital, students calculated the metric distance between landmarks of the city.

Using a contour and elevation map of Hawaii’s big island, the group weighed how they would navigate the terrain if their plane crashed. They also used information on the map to identify poisonous plants and animals that they might encounter.

In Ms. Leonhardt’s adjacent class, students learned about “Amazing Air” and its properties as Commander Miller of STARBASE used magic tricks to reinforce key points.

Throughout the class activities, students apply logical reasoning skills and teamwork to answer questions posed by the STARBASE volunteers.

Once they arrive at a conclusion, students are challenged to “defend your position,” explaining how they arrived at a particular answer. It’s a subtle way of teaching students about the scientific method.

STARBASE is a nationwide program that has been in place since 1994. The program aims to help students improve their skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, also known as S.T.E.M.

According to information available on STARBASE’s website, the demand for science and engineering professionals will be four times all other careers within the next decade. However, less than 10 percent of graduate degrees earned in the U.S. are in the engineering, math and technology fields.

By increasing student interest and confidence in the S.T.E.M. areas, the program hopes to increase the number of high school graduates entering college for these high demand career fields.

Image courtesy of Web | Lincoln Times-News

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