Nov. 2, 2011

Virginia Guard receives funding for STARBASE youth education program in Winchester

By Cotton Puryear   
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard has received federal funding to establish a STARBASE youth education program that will be hosted at the Cherry-Beasley Readiness Center in Winchester.

National Guard Bureau allocated $350,000 for the Virginia Guard program from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012, said Brig. Gen. Wayne A. Wright, Virginia Air National Guard chief of staff and the officer responsible for setting up and monitoring the operation. The bulk of the funding goes to the full time staff, but funds will also go to requirements for the initial set up of equipment and supplies.

STARBASE is a Department of Defense and National Guard Bureau initiative for youth ages six through 18 aimed at improving math and science skills. It starts at the elementary school level in order to attract and prepare students at an early age for careers in engineering and other science-related fields of study, and it serves students and teachers by providing exciting hands-on learning experiences combining personal development, team building and hands-on enrichment in science, math and technology.

Federally reimbursed state employees will staff STARBASE. Wright said there will be a program director, deputy director, instructor and an office manager who will also provide information technology technical support.

The initial advertisements for the director and instructor should go out in November and the additional positions in December, Wright said. Once the staff has been hired, they will begin work on curriculum development, facilities set up and receive required STARBASE training. Classes normally run concurrently with the academic school year, Wright said. He said the goal is to have a pilot ready to begin in June 2012 and the full schedule ready for the academic year in fall 2012.

Wright said the Virginia National Guard will work in close coordination with the Winchester Public Schools as they set up and launch the new educational opportunity.

The STARBASE in Winchester will be the first in Virginia run by the National Guard. There is one hosted at the Norfolk Naval Base, and the closest to Winchester is in Martinsburg, W. Va. The Virginia National Guard also runs Commonwealth ChalleNGe, a 22-week residential program for at-risk teenagers that is structured in a military style environment to promote academics, attention to detail, time management and leadership, while promoting self esteem, confidence and pride.

STARBASE principally exposes at-risk children and their teachers to real world applications of math and science through experiential learning, simulations and experiments in aviation and space-related fields. It also addresses drug use prevention, health, self-esteem and life skills within a math- and science-based curriculum.

According to the 2010 DoD STARBASE Annual Report, there are 60 locations in 34 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Since 1993, more than 609,000 students have participated in the program and more than 64,000 took part in 2010. The annual cost is almost $18 million.

Participating States: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Additional Information:

National Guard Bureau STARBASE

Department of Defense STARBASE

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