Story by Sgt. Michael Giles
AUSTIN, Texas - "When I was a kid, Whitney Houston really reached me with 'the children are the future,'” said Ivy Williams, Deputy Director of STARBASE Austin.
“And they are our future.” Williams asserted. “We just really need to work at pointing them towards a future where they'll have success.”
The STARBASE Austin staff held their 5th annual week-long summer camp for children of Texas Military Department employees, July 31, 2017 at Camp Mabry in Austin.
STARBASE is a Department of Defense-funded program that brings children onto military installations, like Camp Mabry, to have fun with the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math.
“What’s exciting about today is I have an opportunity to bring my son and his friend to participate in STARBASE,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marcel Ruales, a logistics non-commissioned officer with the Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force. “It’s so exciting just to see our kids come over and have an opportunity to grow and learn.”
STARBASE brings math and science to life for students by giving them real-life technological problems to solve, explained STARBASE instructor Laura Badkoobeh.
"One of the things we say at STARBASE quite often is 'hands-on-minds-on,' and what that means for students is that they're getting their hands dirty, working and learning together in science, technology, engineering and math,” Badkoobeh said. "They're working to solve problems they may face in real life as they get older. They're developing skills that will take them far in their careers and in life."
The first engineering challenge they faced this year was to build a bridge out of lasagna.
“Our students start out doing operation bridge quest,” said Emily Bell, STARBASE Austin’s program specialist. “The students have an urgent mission to build a bridge for the town of water’s edge so that they can get food and water within ten days. Our students are given that problem. They go in and they have a problem to solve and explore.”
Schools from all across Central Texas transport students to Camp Mabry to attend STARBASE throughout the year. Williams explained that STARBASE serves an important role in the community by collaborating with independent school districts to facilitate learning opportunities that some districts may not easily afford to provide on their own.
“Some schools have more resources and are able to provide more STEM education than others,” Williams said. “STARBASE Austin is here to fill that gap so that all kids have the same opportunities to understand how important STEM careers are.”
STARBASE Austin also collaborates with its sponsor, the Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force, whose members regularly attend to provide additional mentorship and inspiration to make good decision and pursue fascinating careers.
We are so excited to have a partnership with Counterdrug Task Force here on post,” Bell enthused. “We have soldiers that come out and sit with our students and encourage them and motivate them and ask some questions. They remind our students how important it is to make positive decisions and if they make a mistake to take responsibility for it and how to push forward.”