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Math, science focus of Starbase

Berkeley county fifth-graders will soon participate in the Starbase Academy, which seeks to increase students' knowledge of math

Berkeley county fifth-graders will soon participate in the Starbase Academy, which seeks to increase students' knowledge of math

October 11, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Starting soon, Berkeley County fifth-graders will be bused to the Air National Guard facility once a week for four weeks so they can set their minds toward the future and their hands on science, officials with the program said.

Martinsburg will be the second site of the West Virginia Starbase Academy, a federally funded program that seeks to increase students' knowledge of math, science and technology through hands-on activities.

A second academy is in Charleston, home of the state's only other Air National Guard base.

Before the program gets under way, a director, deputy director, program instructor and office manager need to be hired. The deputy director and program instructor positions must be filled by certified teachers.

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Later this month, 27 fifth-graders from Eagle School Intermediate will attend a test-run of sorts, with teachers coming up from the Charleston academy. At the end of that, the curriculum will be validated, said Dennis Christian, director of the Charleston academy.

All of Berkeley County's 1,200 fifth-graders eventually will attend, with some starting in January 2003. Students will spend one day a week for four weeks at the 167th Airlift Wing.

Goals and objectives for the program are similar to Space Camp, Christian said.

"Starbase is more fun than Space Camp," Christian said with a smile. "I've got that in writing too."

Students will build their own rocket, learn about flight, space exploration and physics, use flight simulation software, tour the base and take part in other activities. Substance abuse prevention and goal-setting are also key components, Christian said.

The only cost to Berkeley County is what is needed to bus the students from the county's four intermediate schools to the air base outside of Martinsburg.

Everything else is paid for by the U.S. Department of Defense, which has included the program in its budget through 2007.

This program could ensure jobs in science- and math-related fields do not go unfilled, as some do now because of a lack of qualified applicants, officials said.

"This is one way in the aerospace field we can grow our own," Christian said. Positive results are obvious, through pre-program versus better post-program test results, Christian said.

Each child who attends gets a call name like those used in the military - Christian's, for example, is "Red Leg."

Despite that, Gen. Wayne "Speedy" Lloyd said the program is not a recruiting tool.

"The real goal here is to expose them to science and math," he said. However, he added later, "We're certainly not going to turn anybody away if they want to join the Guard in the future."

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