SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The STARBASE-Atlantis academy San Diego launched the first Navy version of the new Department of Defense (DOD) STARBASE 2.0 mentoring program on Jan. 11 for 31 sixth-graders from a local elementary school.
DOD STARBASE 2.0 is an effort to combine Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities in a relationship rich, school-based environment to provide enrichment for at-risk youth making the transition from elementary to middle school. The program extends the impact of DOD STARBASE through a team mentoring approach which solidifies students' attachment to their school and engagement in STEM activities.
"DOD STARBASE 2.0 differs from our regular STARBASE-Atlantis program in that instead of one day a week for five weeks at the academy, these kids spend one afternoon per week with a mentor for five months working on a team project at their school," said Nick Jordan, director of the STARBASE-Atlantis academy at Naval Base San Diego. "These kids are older, and all are veterans of STARBASE-Atlantis. In addition to STEM-related activities in the 2.0 program, the students and their mentors work together on numerous goal-setting and teamwork activities."
The National City School District in San Diego has partnered with STARBASE-Atlantis to bring the DOD STARBASE 2.0 program to Ira Harbison Elementary School, with volunteer mentors from Naval Air Station North Island and Training Support Center San Diego.
"To be perfectly honest, I was a little skeptical about how we were going to get 30 kids who wanted to come after school, but the response has been incredible," said Alfonso Denegri, principal of Ira Harbison Elementary. "On the first day we had everybody show up except one kid who was sick during the day - and his parents even called in to make sure he still had a spot! The neat part is about half the class are girls. To see that many girls that are interested in engineering and cars was very encouraging."
The students partner with their mentors to form clubs, with a ratio of three students per mentor. The clubs work together to design, build, and race their own 1/32 scale slot cars. The student clubs compete against each other to see who can develop the fastest car possible.
The students will use the same Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software to design the slot car that they used during their visits to STARBASE-Atlantis during fifth-grade. The cars will be built from the CAD designs, and refined until the students believe they have designed their fastest car.
"The kids are eager to compete - they are excited about their roles and responsibilities and are anxious to start," said Than Luu, DOD STARBASE 2.0 mentor and supervisory electronics engineer for Naval Air Systems Command North Island. "There are a lot of things that the kids can learn from this project; not just to come out with a pretty car that goes fast. They will be learning how to work together as a team and how to look at a project as a whole big picture."
DOD STARBASE 2.0 is a collaborative effort between DOD, Hornby Ltd., PTC Corporation, STARBASE-Atlantis San Diego, and the National City School District.
There are more than 60 DOD STARBASE programs throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, funded by the Department of Defense through Congressional appropriation since 1989 and operated by the armed services.
For more information on the 15 Navy STARBASE-Atlantis academies, the DOD STARBASE 2.0 program in San Diego, or NETC visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/comunity/STARBASE/sa.html and www.starbasedod.org. https://www.netc.navy.mil, and www.navy.mil/local/cnet/.