NEWS | June 11, 2021

DOD STARBASE lifts off on Joint Base MDL

By Airman 1st Class Joseph Morales Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

On May 5, 2021, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst was selected to host a Department of Defense STARBASE, a five-week, full-time Science, Technology, Engineering and Math academy that complements at-risk students’ education with “hands-on, minds-on” learning.

Sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs and funded by the DOD, STARBASE will provide fifth-graders the opportunity to explore career opportunities within STEM and be exposed to members of the installation who work in STEM career fields. 

“We are excited to be officially named a member of the DOD STARBASE educational program and we look forward to building upon our partnership with local schools and community partners to bring new opportunities to students on the installation and the surrounding communities,” said Col. Christopher Hall, the 87th Mission Support Group deputy commander. “This program will offer students new hands-on experiences designed to inspire and promote STEM exploration.”  

The career-based curriculum offered with STARBASE is intended to compliment students’ education with the opportunity to observe STEM applications in the “real world” and provide a tailored education that provides students stimulating activities with science, chemistry, physics, math, coding, software development and app development.

“It’s very hands-on,” said April Boatner-Allen, 87th Force Support Squadron School Liaison Specialist. “This is not just a sit-and-listen to a teacher lecture, or read-from-a-book type learning. The students will be experimenting all the time. They're here to document research and learn how to be researchers and scientists.”

Joint Base MDL has created community partnerships with the local school districts of Pemberton, North Hanover, Manchester, and Lakehurst in support of the STARBASE program, along with an additional partnership with the Camden Dream Center. These community partnerships allow both local agencies and the military community to connect and empower youth.

 “While working alongside Mrs. Donella Schearer and Mrs. Boatner-Allen, we received amazing support from Joint Base Senior Leadership,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Austin Barkdoll, 305th Maintenance Group senior process manager. “Without the backing of Colonel Gigliotti and Colonel Hall and the Joint Base team, these opportunities would not be possible.”

“We do hope to grow and be able to include other STARBASE programs,” said Boatner-Allen. “If we can show that JB MDL can be the premiere location for it, we can grow to STARBASE 2.0, which is the middle school program. There's also a high school program that's connected with JROTC, and then there's a career program as well. STARBASE is foundational for our installation in building what we call a STEM pipeline or STEM ecosystem - to see kids from kindergarten all the way to a career in STEM.”

The JB MDL STARBASE is expected to run a minimum of 31 academies a year, with a minimum of 20 students per academy. It is set to open its doors to students in January 2022.

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