Program Has STEM Students Reaching For The Stars

Christina Fletcher, director of STARBASE at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, cuts a ribbon on the program. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Sergio Avalos)

  JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST – The first class of 5th grade students from Fort Dix Elementary School entered a whole new world when they came to the newly opened STARBASE (Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration) program.

  STARBASE is a Department of Defense funded youth program developed in order to amplify and encourage the understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The curriculum is taught by certified instructors who use hands-on activities and technology to educate fifth grade students.

  Joint Base STARBASE Director Christina Fletcher said when students are in a traditional classroom environment, there are tests and standards they have to meet. “When they come to STARBASE, it’s more of a hands-on approach, making it more engaging for the students being able to see Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) outside of a piece of paper.”

Hallie Adolf, deputy director for STARBASE on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, lectures 5th grade students who are interacting with military personnel to explore careers and observe STEM applications in the real world. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Sergio Avalos)

  The students were offered opportunities that normally wouldn’t be presented due to their current environment.

  Joint Base School Liaison Specialist April Boatner-Allen said, “this is really about focusing on at-risk youth. These students that are coming may not have had this opportunity to engage with STEM fields anywhere else which is why it’s important to have this program here at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.”

  The base has created community partnerships with the local school districts of Pemberton and North Hanover in Burlington County as well as Manchester and Lakehurst in support of the STARBASE program, along with an additional partnership with the Camden Dream Center.

  Community partnerships like STARBASE are said to encourage local agencies and the military community to connect and empower the youth with STEM knowledge.

A STARBASE sign posted outside the new facility at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst following a special ribbon cutting ceremony. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Sergio Avalos)

  Boatner-Allen said the goal of STARBASE is “to ignite the passion for STEM. It’s also helpful for our students to understand that the sky is not the limit.”

  Twenty-five hours of STEM instruction is provided to students during the five-week program. They integrate various learning experiences with the exploration of STEM-related careers on and off base.

  For additional information about the STARBASE program visit