STARBASE Martinsburg offers STEM-based camps to military kids

By By Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle | Aug. 5, 2019

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. —

STARBASE Martinsburg, based with the 167th Airlift Wing at Shepherd Field, Martinsburg, W.Va., hosted approximately 70 kids for a week of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-based activities, July 15-19 and July 29-Aug 2.

This summer marked the 15th year that STARBASE Martinsburg has offered a summer program for the unit members’ family and friends.

STARBASE Martinsburg program director, Sherra Triggs, said her staff develops new “hands-on, minds-on” curriculum for the camps each year, geared towards 6-8 year olds for the Little Einstein camp and 9-14 year olds for the Kids Camp.

“Many months are spent researching experiments, activities, and a curriculum filled with scientific inquiry and fun concepts for campers,” Triggs said. “We also emphasize team-building and collaboration.”

This year, campers’ days were filled with activities such as robotics, owl pellet dissection, a crime scene investigation lab, they made glow in the dark slime and elephant toothpaste, had a water wall challenge and a photo scavenger hunt competition, they made fine-art paintings and solved their way out of a science-themed escape room.

Lt. Col. Tony Henry, the 167th AW’s director of inspections, said his daughter Madeline, 9, has attended the camp for three years and was very excited about the escape room and the scavenger hunt this year.

Henry, an engineer by trade, said he appreciates the science-based curriculum and the fact that STARBASE isn’t required to offer the free camps.

Triggs said they offer the camps, in part, as a token of their appreciation to the wing.

“STARBASE has a wonderful working relationship with the members of the 167th. Base leadership supports our program by providing classroom space and allowing and encouraging unit members to volunteer, often hours upon hours, mentoring our students and serving as positive role models,” Triggs said.

The camps also give the STARBASE staff an opportunity to test new activities that can be used during the school year.

STARBASE Martinsburg has been offering week-long STEM-based academies to local fifth-graders each school year since 2003. Throughout that time, their program has expanded and they now serve more than 2,500 students each year.

STARBASE is a Department of Defense program. It originated in Detroit, Mich., in 1991, focused on exposing at-risk 4th, 5th and 6th graders to science, technology and math based on the physics of flight.