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HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Col. Lester A. Weilacher, 66th Air Base Group commander, speaks to fifth graders attending STARBASE Dec. 17. The STARBASE program is teaming up with base professional organizations to provide class speakers and mentors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Wyatt)
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Mentoring, leading a big part of new STARBASE program

Posted 1/9/2013   Updated 1/9/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


1/9/2013 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- As fifth graders file in and out of the STARBASE building--Hanscom's newest program to educate students about science, technology, engineering and math--they're not only excited about what they've just learned, but who they've just met.

Part of the STEM enrichment program for youth allows base personnel, both military and civilian, to interact with students in two different roles--either by speaking to the classes or serving as a mentor.

"We've reached out to professional organizations to provide mentors," said Steve Ramos, 66th Force Support Squadron Force Development Flight chief. "Volunteers come in, say for example, on day one, three and five for 30 minutes to talk to the kids."

The mentoring session is informal and usually takes place during the students' lunch break. It allows the children to interact with military members or civilian employees and ask them questions about their jobs.

The program has also teamed up with professional organizations, such as the Company Grade Officers Council, Junior Force Council and Top Three, to enlist speakers to come to talk to the students about their experience with math or science.

"You don't necessarily have to be a scientist to come and talk to the children," said Dr. Peter Holden, Hanscom STARBASE director. "We have volunteers coming in to talk about the importance of education, staying in school and setting goals."

The speakers talk to the fifth graders for about 30 minutes and then take questions for approximately 15 minutes.

Hanscom STARBASE opened in the former library building in November. The program, a Department of Defense initiative, targets Title I schools and at-risk youth, but any school may send their students to take advantage of STEM learning. The site is the first in Massachusetts and one of nearly 80 locations spread across the country. The national program leverages the technical and educational resources available on military bases.

The DoD supports the program to lay the foundation for a highly skilled workforce in the future, as seen in their vision statement:

"To raise the interest and improve the knowledge and skills of at-risk youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics which will provide for a highly educated and skilled American workforce that can meet the advanced technological requirements of the Department of Defense."

Anyone interested in becoming a STARBASE volunteer should first contact base professional organizations to learn about opportunities available. For further information about the program, call Hanscom STARBASE at 781-862-4015 or 781-862-4016 or visit www.DoDSTARBASE.org.



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