For the last few years, one of the grant recipients from the Rotary Club of Boise Sunrise has been the DoD Starbase STEM education program. This impressive program is collaborating with seven different school districts around the Treasure Valley to bring in 5th graders for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education for these students. The program specifically targets Title One schools and invites entire classes to the Starbase classroom in an attempt to address the schools that have been historically underserved in STEM instruction. This classroom and hands-on enrichment program is conducted at Gowen Field in Boise and often involves one day a week for the students for a five week run. Students are asked to work in groups to solve engineering challenges that include constructing bridge structures out of pasta.
Starbase has a terrific set of educational tools like small robots, a very fun organic chemistry application using 3D model-molecules interfacing with a tablet-based program, and numerous different coding projects. I was allowed to use one of these intriguing devices in an effort to get it to roll across the classroom floor and stop on a designated target.
The Starbase instructional team is looking to expand these class offerings and this is what the funds from Boise Sunrise are going to be used for. The compelling educational tools that they already have on hand will now be offered to more students in the form of after-school classes. Starbase 2.0 is what this new program will be called and will serve teacher-selected students in 6th grade. Students participating in this program will compete in the First Lego League Robotics Challenge Competition and spend a minimum of 25 hours learning coding, building/modifying their robot, and completing an innovation project designed to help improve their community.
At Boise Sunrise, we seek to leave it better than we found it. Expanding and supporting a program that is already doing outstanding work on behalf of numerous Idaho students is an ideal way for us to turn that motto into a tangible reality. Bravo to the DoD Starbase teacher team; we are proud to support this kind of important and effective work for these talented students!
John Lodal – 8/9/2021