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Davis Journal

Junior High pilots STARBASE 2.0 program

Jan 14, 2021 01:52PM ● By Becky Ginos

CLEARFIELD—Seventh grade students at North Davis Junior High are learning to fly – drones that is. The school is piloting the STARBASE 2.0 program sponsored by Hill Air Force Base. 

“It’s expanding to secondary schools,” said Assistant Principal Stacey Jackson. “This year it’s seventh grade then next it will be eighth then ninth and on to Clearfield High. It will be a different curriculum every year.”

The program lasts six weeks and covers Drone flying basics, programming and flying. “It culminates with a competition where students have tasks like flying through an obstacle course and solving a mission,” said Jackson. 

STARBASE 2.0 is an extension of the main STARBASE academy through the Department of Defense (DoD) for fifth graders. “I’m trying to keep kids in the program until they graduate high school,” said Marrisa Jager, STARBASE 2.0 coordinator. “I want to inspire them to consider STEM careers.”

Children have their own drone and iPad, Jager said. “They go through an elaborate obstacle course and it’s hands off. Then they have to solve a problem that reinforces what they’re learning.”

The competition consists of three missions. “Whoever does it the fastest will win,” she said. “Then they can go onto the district and the winner gets a $150 Lego set. It’s been a lot of fun, the kids seem to love it.”

The program got its beginning in Detroit when a teacher there felt there was a need for students to have a more hands on computer based experience, said Davis Amparan, Director of STARBASE Hill. “She made arrangements for students to come on base and participate in engineering based activities and created a curriculum based on that. The students loved it. She got a grant and one thing led to another and the DoD funded it fully.”

They reached out to local communities to give students a hands on, minds on experience, he said. “Ideally we target students who have underserved access to STEM to get them more excited to venture into these science fields.”

STARBASE has been at Hill for about 10 years, said Amparan. “It’s the only program located here in Utah. We cover the surrounding districts in Davis and Weber and Ogden is starting next year. We’d like to branch out through the state through a YouTube channel and by word of mouth the best we can.”

The program was supposed to be six weeks in the fall and six weeks in the spring, said Jackson. “But with COVID we nixed the fall. We’d love to double the amount of kids with fall and spring. There are 12 kids a piece so it will just grow.”

Amparan said they also offer summer camps as well. “They go up to 25 class hours. We bring them here (Hill) for five days for four to five hours and have activities that encompass engineering. We also teach Creo computer programs and have an entry level course in that.”

In addition, students learn physics, chemistry, Lego Mindstorm and coding robotics with those, he said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to get their hands into this so they see something they’ve never seen before as they go into high school and college.”