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STARBASE program provides students with STEM experience

Students working on circuit boards
Posted at 8:03 AM, Mar 20, 2024

HELENA — Every fifth-grade class in both Helena and Great Falls school districts spends time learning hands-on stem instruction and activities, and this week was Radley Elementary School's turn.

"I think it's pretty educational and fun a lot of the time," said Henry Bishop, a fifth grader at Radley Elementary School.

Through STARBASE, he is one of the students who experience coding, rocket launching, building circuits, making slime, and so much more.

STARBASE is a nationwide program that started in the 90s but was brought to Montana in 2007.

The goal is to inspire students to explore a career in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

STEM station at STARBASE

STARBASE offers more hands-on experience than a traditional classroom.

"You learn math, reading, sometimes science, but it's usually not this complex and fun," Bishop said.

The students spend five days and 25 hours at STARBASE.

The overall program director for STARBASE, Kara Bates Tangedal, said, "We surveyed the Great Falls graduating seniors last year, and out of all of those graduating seniors, over 30 of them had said, 'Because of STARBASE, I'm pursuing a STEM career."

STARBASE is entirely funded by the Department of Defense (DOD), meaning all its camps, classes, and outreach are free for families.

Radley Elementary School 5th graders at STARBASE

Being funded by the Department of Defense is also why STARBASE programs must be hosted on military bases.

Tangedal said, "In order for our country to remain competitive, we need to be at the cutting edge of science, technology, engineering, and math, and so this is here to light that spark in students."

Applications for STARBASE's free summer programs are now open. For more information, call 406-791-0806, email, or click here.

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