Classroom STEM and STARBASE Academy

classroom STEM

S.T.E.M. or S.T.E.A.M. is a term you have most likely heard pop up over the past several years.  It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, (the Arts), and Mathematics.  STEM lends itself directly to student-centered learning as everything done is hands-on and experimentation.  You see STEAM labs popping up in schools across the country and the idea of Genius Hour becoming increasingly popular.  Classroom STEM is gaining momentum and is going to be around for the long haul.  Some schools and programs are becoming dedicated to this idea, including our spotlight today, STARBASE Academy and our guest blogger, Karen Garcia.

What is STARBASE Academy?

According to their website, STARBASE Academy, is a Department of Defense Youth Program, which focuses on STEM curriculum for elementary students, primarily all fifth grade in the nation.


To expose our nation’s youth to the technological environments and positive civilian and military role models found on Active, Guard, and Reserve military bases and installations, nurture a winning network of collaborators, and build mutual loyalty within our communities, by providing 25 hours of exemplary hands-on instruction and activities that meet or exceed the National Standards. 


To be the premier Department of Defense youth outreach program for raising the interest in learning and improving the knowledge and skills of our nation’s at-risk youth so that we may develop a highly educated and skilled American workforce who can meet the advanced technological requirements of the Department of Defense.


Who is affiliated with STARBASE Academy?

Since it is a Department of Defense Youth Program, the STARBASE Academy is affiliated with all our military services such as the United States Air Force, United States Army, US Navy, US Marines, and the Army and Air National Guard, and Reserves.

The students or as we call them, cadets at the academy, have the privilege to participate in STEM Military Career tours during their 3rd and 4th week in the STARBASE program. Our cadets will learn about the military facility’s mission, as well as, how the military personnel uses STEM in their everyday jobs.

My Job as a classroom STEM Instructor:

I am Karen Garcia and I am privileged to work for STARBASE.  As a classroom STEM instructor,  I am in charge of teaching the curriculum to 1300-1500 students every school year. That’s right!! Everyday, I see different students, different faces, different personalities. Each 5th-grade class will have a total of 25 hours of classroom STEM training, where they will learn about chemistry, physics, the metric system, robotics, computer-aided design and more. The students come to STARBASE once a week for five weeks to earn their 25 hours of training. Graduation is held on the 5th Day.


classroom STEM classroom STEM


Aside from teaching responsibilities, I also maintain and upkeep classroom facilities, equipment, and supplies. I plan, prepare for and deliver DOD STARBASE Curriculum, which aligns with the NGSS. I also recommend and implement curriculum modifications when needed. I ensure educational facilities, equipment, supplies, and services available are adequate for all classes.



During the 3rd and 4th week of STARBASE, I coordinate and schedule STEM Military career tours with the Wyoming National Guard and United States Air Force. During these two weeks, our cadets go on a tour for an hour to learn about different military STEM careers. As an extension lesson, the cadets will also do an activity that will help them find jobs that are related to their personality “color” type.



classroom STEM


Our summer consists of rigorous training and professional development. An example would be, NSTA’s STEM Conference which has helped my fellow instructors and me in improving our curriculum as well as improving our teaching skills. The Wyoming STARBASE Academy participates in various outreach programs, and summer camps for 6th-8th-grade students.

Classroom STEM: Math

classroom STEM



A typical day at the WY STARBASE Academy would be like…

hands-on, hands-on, hands-on, and more hands-on activities!!!!

It’s always fun to learn a concept when activities are relevant to the outside world, when students are doing experiments and missions, and when learning concepts without much use of a pencil and paper.

Day 1:

Introduction: Students will get their STARBASE shirts and badges. They will also tell the class, and the STARBASE instructors, the reason behind their chosen CALL SIGN. All STARBASE instructors go by their call-signs as well. (We will only learn of our students’ given name on graduation day.)

Missions: The STARBASE cadets will have four missions to complete on their first day. Subjects ranging from Molecular Models in Chemistry class, Chromatography, Bernoulli’s Principle, and Computer Aided Design.

LUNCH/BREAK: Cadets are scheduled two breaks and a lunch break.

Dismissal: Cadets will be dismissed at 2:15 pm to head back to their designated schools.

The STARBASE instructors will then use the rest of their time doing extracurricular activities such as planning, preparing for the next day, and other admin stuff.

Day 2-4:

For the remainder of the weeks, up until Day 5, the students will  go on a Military STEM career tour and learn about Newton’s Laws of Motion, engineer an active restraint for EGG BERT, learn about nanometers, learn about rocketry and build straw rockets, circuitry, mapping and navigation, computer-aided design, physical and chemical changes, and the metric system.

Day 5:

On day 5, students will continue to execute their last missions in robotics, rocket launch, and atmospheric properties. Graduation is also held on this day. The WY STARBASE Academy is honored to give our cadets a very special graduation ceremony.  Parents are invited to the ceremony as well as, speakers who will give motivational words to our graduating cadets.

In some states, STARBASE 2.0 is conducted. If you want to know more, click on this LINK


That is my job in a nutshell, but just like any educators in a public school setting, STARBASE Academy’s instructors are always learning and teaching something new. Classroom management can be hard at times, but manageable. After all, I am a teacher!

(The links below may be affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure policy for more information.)

Some STEM ideas for YOUR classroom.  Click on the photo to learn more:


About the Author:

classroom STEM“Bliss” graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bowie State University with a major in elementary education. She received her Professional Teaching Certification in the states of Wyoming and Maryland. She has taught in Laramie School District #1 as a substitute teacher and an extended day teacher for Sunrise Elementary School. In addition, she taught online English language education to Chinese elementary students.

Most of her work experiences are with the Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Kadena Air Force Base and Marine Base, Camp McTureous, Japan, as a substitute teacher, paraprofessional, and a school-age program assistant. She is a military spouse. Her husband Antonio and she have two boys, ages 13 and 6.

If you like this post, please go to rel=”nofollow” to read more of my blog posts and language learning services. 

About admin

After moving from a teacher-dominated classroom to a student-regulated one, Jenn found herself helping colleagues who wanted to follow her lead.  In 2018 she decided to expand outside of her school walls and help those out there who were also trying to figure out this fantastic method of instruction.  She realized that, even though there was a ton of information out there about why student-centered learning is beneficial in the classroom, there wasn't a lot about how to go about making the transition to this method; thus Student-Centered World was born.

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