Starbase Minnesota is a good use of defense funds

My fifth-grade students and I just finished a week at Starbase Minnesota, a math, science, engineering and technology program in the Twin Cities. This is my third year taking students there and I’m very impressed with it. Starbase is funded by the Department of Defense, with the National Guard providing “classroom space, access to aviation resources, expertise and support, and volunteers from the Guard serve as guest speakers at graduation.”

U.S. Marine Corporal Carr answers questions from Minneapolis students

Starbase is great because it’s a week of very motivating hands-on science and math activities that focus on the standards we teach. The instructors are excellent — all are licensed teachers and they do a wonderful job with our students.

The Starbase instructors all take on science-related names. Here "Igneous", our teacher, demonstrates heat conductivity of a material used by NASA. Later, our students tested a variety of materials to determine which would be the best one for a heat shield on a Mars lander.

Starbase’s mission and purpose is to work with inner-city 4th-6th graders. Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools can apply for the program. If accepted, the tuition for the week is free — the school only has to pay for transportation to and from the facility near Fort Snelling and the MSP International Airport.

Two of my students program a robotic "Mars rover" to do missions on the surface of that planet.

The week is high-energy, high-learning, and lots of fun. My students learned more about math and science during the Starbase week than any other week of the school year — without a doubt.

Igneous teaches the science behind the air pressure experiment we just did.

We are lucky to have been able to spend a week here. Thank you to all the great Starbase teachers and thanks to the Department of Defense, the National Guard and the Marines for sponsoring this wonderful learning experience for Minneapolis and St. Paul students.

I feel kind of bad for the poor suburban kids who don’t get to do this.