Funding for STEM Education at Orange County STARBASE
In further efforts to bring California tax dollars to Orange County, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D – Orange County) has secured a total of $1.7 million in funding for a critical Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education program to expand the STARBASE youth program at the Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos Department. While the federal government pays for all operating costs associated with STARBASE, the Department of Defense looked to Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva and the State of California to help provide classrooms for the program.
STARBASE, Los Alamitos, serves schools from five counties in California: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego. Although it is anticipated STARBASE Los Alamitos will host 3,000 students from 105 5th grade classes in the 2017-18 school year, there is a wait list of 46 classes that cannot be accommodated. The budget augmentation in this request allows for the construction of a new 3,500 square foot building at the National Guard Base at Los Alamitos, which will include two STARBASE classrooms and allow an additional 2,000 students to attend the program each year -- eliminating the wait list for potential students.
“As a teacher of over 20 years, I am very familiar with the importance of investing in the future of our children, through education. Investing in STEM education is, and will continue to be, an imperative focus of our State” said Quirk-Silva. “Investing in an education focused on these subjects is investing in the futures of these inspired boys and girls, AND the workforce and economy of this nation.”
STARBASE teaches students to complete simulated missions using skills and principles from Physics, Computer Science, Chemistry and Statistics. Students program a robot to complete a Mars Rover mission, design prototypes on CAD (Computer Aided Design), test experiments to learn the unique characteristics of elements and conduct their own experiments. STARBASE Los Alamitos also runs a competitive rocket team every year in which students participate in Team America Rocket Challenge while learning the basics of rocket science.
Nationwide, the STARBASE program is now in 59 locations across 30 states engaging local 5th grade elementary students by exposing them to first-hand “real-world” applications of STEM skills. The program has served more than 1 million students nationwide since its inception. The STARBASE program is administered by the military services because the lack of STEM educated youth in America has been identified as a future national security issue by the Department of Defense.
Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva is Chair of the Assembly Jobs Committee, member of the Select Committee on Aerospace, Select Committee on Career Technical Education and Building a 21st Century Workforce, and the Select Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education, among others.