(Waterbury, CT) - In the 1980s Michigan teacher Barbara Koscak began taking her fifth-grade classes to nearby Selfridge Air National Guard Base as a way to engage their interest in the importance of science, technology, and mathematics. The enthusiastic results drew support in the form of a ScottCrossfield Foundation “Teacher of the Year” award, followed by a 3-year Kellogg Foundation grant and finally in a 1993 US Congressional allocation that created the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) STARBASE program.
Today STARBASE includes over 75 locations in 40 states, and is one of the only nationwide STEM-education programs designed for the fifth-grade level. With the sponsorship of the CT Air National Guard, STARBASE entered Connecticut first in Hartford in 2001, and Waterbury in 2003.
Today’s curriculum is standardized, cutting-edge, research-based instruction that meets national and state standards. It includes the Engineering Design Process (EDP), 3-D computer-assisted technology, Newton’s Laws of Motion, robotics, and more. Hosted by Naugatuck Valley Community College, STARBASE-Waterbury graduates approximately 700 students each year from the Waterbury Public Schools, and approximately 100 from their “Middle School Accelerated Academy” grade 5-6 transition summer sessions. STARBASE-Waterbury also enjoys growing participation from area parochial and independent schools, and all five fifth grade classes from Polk Elementary School in Watertown.
Together the STARBASE CT locations have reached 15,000 graduates, which they celebrated Nov. 30 with Senator Joan Hartley, who helped bring STARBASE to Waterbury 9 years ago.
A thank-you banner created by the July 2012 summer students and displayed here by the students of the John G. Gilmartin Elementary School, was recently presented to President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D. and Provost James Troup in appreciation of NVCC's support.
STARBASE-Waterbury is currently reaching out to the NVCC STEM Division, the NVCC student body, the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Smaller Manufacturers’ Association, among others, to build and strengthen cooperative opportunities in the future. The next stage of evolution is STARBASE 2.0, an afterschool mentoring program for middle school students, already underway in two dozen STARBASE locations, scheduled to be in all locations by 2015.