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A visual visit to Starbase Minnesota

Instructors Tim "Igneous" Swanson and Alyssa "Joule" Heser welcome students to Starbase Minnesota.
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Instructors Tim "Igneous" Swanson and Alyssa "Joule" Heser welcome students to Starbase Minnesota.

I've been spending this week at Starbase Minnesota with more than 100 5th graders from Andersen United Community School in Minneapolis. Starbase is a science, math and engineering program for inner city students in grades 4-6, located in an Air National Guard building at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Starbase is an engaging, week-long program that focuses on some of the same standards we teach in school, but teaches them in a way that we never could. The Starbase instructors are all licensed teachers and do a wonderful job with our students.

Instructor Joule helps students program a "Mars rover."
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Instructor Joule helps students program a "Mars rover."

The Department of Defense provides classrooms, access to aviation resources and volunteers from the Guard serve as guest speakers as part of the program. There are a host of other funders, including many science and technology-related companies and foundations.

Members of the military speak to students and answer questions.
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Members of the military speak to students and answer questions.

This is my fourth year attending Starbase and I'm impressed by the high quality of instruction and lessons. Because of the technology required, these are the kinds of activities that are difficult or impossible to do at school. The program gives kids a chance to apply their learning in fun and motivating ways. My students love it.

Students compare the density of the atmospheres of Earth and Mars.
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Students compare the density of the atmospheres of Earth and Mars.

After a year in a temporary facility, Starbase returned in September to its refurbished home with larger and technologically updated classrooms.

Students are welcomed to the redesigned Starbase facility by instructor Scott "Viper" Halupczok.
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Students are welcomed to the redesigned Starbase facility by instructor Scott "Viper" Halupczok.
Students use computers to design rockets for their mission to Mars.
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Students use computers to design rockets for their mission to Mars.
New classrooms have plenty of space for science activities.
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
New classrooms have plenty of space for science activities.

It seems like my students learn more math and science in a week at Starbase than they ever would at school. I've been impressed and I think it's a good use of Department of Defense funds and of corporate and individual contributions. I hope it can continue to be funded in future years to serve lower-income students from Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Instructor Ben "Kelvin" Sonquist says goodbye to students as they board the bus.
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Instructor Ben "Kelvin" Sonquist says goodbye to students as they board the bus.

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