Joint Base MDL Opens Doors for DOD STARBASE

  • Published
  • By Airman First Class Sergio Avalos

On May 5, 2022, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst welcomed its first class of fifth grade students from Fort Dix Elementary School to its new Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration (STARBASE) program.

STARBASE is a Department of Defense funded youth program developed in order to amplify and encourage the understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The curriculum is taught by certified instructors who use hands-on activities and technology to educate fifth grade students.

“When students are in a traditional classroom environment, there are tests and standards they have to meet,” said Christina Fletcher, Director of STARBASE at JB MDL. “When they come to STARBASE, it’s more of a hands-on approach, making it more engaging for the students being able to see Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) outside of a piece of paper.”

With the STARBASE Program, fifth grade students are offered opportunities that normally wouldn’t be presented due to their current environment.

“This is really about focusing on at-risk youth.” said April Boatner-Allen, a school liaison specialist at JB MDL. “These students that are coming may not have had this opportunity to engage with STEM fields anywhere else which is why it’s important to have this program here at JB MDL.”

JB MDL has created community partnerships with the local school districts of Pemberton, North Hanover, Manchester, and Lakehurst in support of the STARBASE program, along with an additional partnership with the Camden Dream Center. Community partnerships like this help encourage local agencies and the military community to connect and empower the youth with STEM knowledge.

“The goal of this program is to ignite the passion for STEM,” said Boatner-Allen. “It’s also helpful for our students to understand that the sky is not the limit.”

Students are provided 25 hours of STEM instruction during the five-week program, and integrate dynamic learning experiences with the exploration of STEM-related careers on and off base. To find out more information about DoD STARBASE, visit