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STARBASE: STEMazing and hands-on

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brittany E. N. Murphy
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs

In Oct. 2019, Vandenberg Air Force Base was chosen as one of the newest locations for the Department of Defense STARBASE program, becoming one of 68 locations to host the program.

One year later, STARBASE Vandenberg, a science, technology, engineering and math-based outreach initiative that aims to motivate school age students to explore STEM throughout their education, hosted its grand opening on Oct. 14, 2020.

STARBASE Vandenberg originally planned to open their doors in the summer of 2020 to a number of children across the Lompoc Unified School District, but they had to adjust due to the global pandemic. To allow students the opportunity to participate in these STEM related courses during COVID-19 restrictions, the STARBASE Vandenberg team has made some adjustments. 

"Despite the current COVID-19 conditions, with the support of the base and our partners we have been able to maintain and host classes by downsizing due to seating, social distancing, and sanitizing,” said Tony Troup-Spurlock, STARBASE Vandenberg program director. “By the end of the school year, we will have reached Manzanita's entire student body through classroom experiences or outreach doing STEM activities. Going forward, we plan to host a number of one hour STEM afternoons with electronics and Oobleck open to the Vandenberg AFB community.”

Although classes are limited to eight students due to COVID-19 restrictions, STEMazing afternoon with STARBASE and the Vandenberg AFB Library will be held on the first Wednesday of each month from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the STARBASE campus. The monthly classes are scheduled from Feb. through May and will be available for students ages eight through twelve.

The list of classes for Feb. through March include Elephant toothpaste and Oobleck, K’nex Chariot Challenge, Makey Makey Conductivity, Ozobot a-MAZE-ing race.

The Elephant toothpaste and Oobleck class will take place on Feb. 3. During this class, students will learn about catalysts and what happens during the rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, as well as the characteristic properties of a Non-Newtonian fluid.

On March 3, students will get the opportunity to engineer their own chariot out of K’nex during the K’nex Chariot Challenge.

The Makey Makey Conductivity class on April 7, will allow students to create a circuit and build a prototype to test the conductivity of different objects.

For the May 5 class, attendees will participate in the Ozobot a-MAZE-ing race, where they will construct a maze and program the Ozobot to complete their challenge.

In April, sign-ups will open for summer academies, which will be open to military dependents and children of contractors and civilian personnel.

“Additionally, we have ongoing STEM outreach with the CDC Pre-K classes where we pick a story to read and the Pre-K students complete a related STEM activity from the story,” said Troup-Spurlock. “STARBASE Saturdays are on the way once a month for families in two small sessions, where we plan to build kites from scratch, learn about fun topics in Chemistry, and host an egg drop competition and water bottle rocket launches.”

To sign-up, email with the name and age of the student, as well as what class the student would like to attend. For more information, visit the DoD STARBASE website.