BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Title-1 elementary students in Brevard County will soon get a hands-on immersion into the exciting world of science, technology, education, and math (STEM) education. The Department of Defense recently awarded a contract to the Aldrin Family Foundation (AFF) and The ASTA Group, LLC (ASTA) to launch and operate a new STARBASE Academy at the 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base. The Academy, which is opening this week, will be the second one in Florida and the first along Florida’s Space Coast.
The DoD STARBASE is a national educational program targeted primarily to Title-1 fifth graders to motivate them to explore STEM as they continue their education. Students participate in 25 hours of challenging, “hands-on, minds-on” curriculum and activities in STEM such as aviation and space exploration that meet or exceed national standards. Sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower & Reserve Affairs (Reserve Integration), STARBASE is conducted via academies located at Army National Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force Reserve, and Air Force bases across the nation. The other Florida Academy is located at the 125th Fighter Wing Florida Air National Guard in Jacksonville, Florida.
“We’ve long wished to open a second STARBASE Academy in Florida and are incredibly excited to have the support and commitment of the Aldrin Family Foundation and The ASTA Group to make this wish come true,” said Michael J. O’Toole, CDFM-A Director, Civil-Military Programs, with the DoD STARBASE program. “Both organizations share the commitment and resources to make our newest Academy a resounding success.”
Former Engineering Academy Director at Merritt Island High School and board member for many local non-profits, Charles Parker, has been named STARBASE Executive Director.
“My team and I look forward to coordinating efforts of the DoD, the school system, and our outstanding local engineering companies to ignite hope in our students and enhance STEM education here on the Space Coast,” Parker said.
During the summer months, AFF will supplement the DoD’s existing STARBASE curriculum with innovative, space-themed programs including the Foundation’s Giant Mars and Moon Maps. These exciting, core science standards-based, interactive educational tools help children develop an understanding for real-world, STEM-based concepts using the Red Planet and the Moon as the basis. All 56 Brevard County Schools currently have at least one set of map programs that have been donated by AFF over the years.
“The way to really engage students and get them passionate about a subject is to make it come alive,” said Dr. Andrew Aldrin, president of AFF. “Our map programs spark creativity as they sit, stand, walk, play, and learn. It’s the best combination possible. Plus, we strive to put our maps into areas where we think they can do the most good, including underserved communities. This new STARBASE Academy is the perfect match for us. We can’t wait to see how the Academy’s future students will grow to love STEM and become our next-generation explorers.”
AFF sub-contracted ASTA to provide six on-site professionals who will run the STARBASE Academy, including directors, teachers, and teacher aides. ASTA has already secured a partnership with Brevard Public Schools to have Title-1 fifth-grade students from its elementary schools to participate in the program. The first round of students is slated to begin classes at the Academy on March 10, where they will participate in several hours of innovative, hands-on STEM activities. Visits by additional groups are already scheduled for the remainder of the school year.
“Getting kids to develop a love for science and math has always been something near and dear to my heart,” said Dr. Linda Brent, owner/CEO of ASTA. “Several months ago, I visited a STARBASE Academy in Virginia in action and was very impressed. When the opportunity came to be a part of bringing one of these innovative centers to Florida’s Space Coast, I seized the chance. There is tremendous community support and excitement about how the STARBASE Academy at Patrick Air Force Base is going to spark a love for STEM in some of our most vulnerable students.”
About the DoD STARBASE
The DoD STARBASE is an educational program sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower & Reserve Affairs (Reserve Integration). Fifth-grade students participate in challenging hands-on activities in aviation, science, technology, engineering, math, and space exploration that meet or exceed national standards. The program provides students with 20-25 hours of stimulating experiences at Academies located at Army National Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force Reserve, and Air Force bases across the nation. The goal is to motivate them to explore STEM as they continue their education.
About the Aldrin Family Foundation
The Aldrin Family Foundation (AFF) strives to cultivate the next generation of space leaders, entrepreneurs, and explorers who will extend human habitation beyond the Earth to the Moon and Mars. AFF’s STEM-based educational tools, curriculum, and programs span from a child’s first classroom experience through graduate school and professional programs. This vertical pathway unites explorers at all levels to learn from each other’s vision for space, ultimately creating the first generation of Martians.
About The ASTA Group, LLC
The ASTA Group, LLC (ASTA) is a woman-owned small business that is focused on helping domestic and international commercial and government clients improve their operating capabilities to reach their organizational goals. The company’s team of professionals specialize in management, analysis, strategic planning, process and model development, training and education design and development, technology applications, and research and evaluation.
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