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DoD STARBASE is a premier educational program, sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. At DoD STARBASE students participate in challenging “hands-on, minds-on” activities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). They interact with military personnel to explore careers and observe STEM applications in the “real world.” The program provides students with 25 hours of stimulating experiences at National Guard, Marine, Air Force Reserve, Army, and Air Force bases across the nation.

DoD STARBASE’s primary focus is the program for fifth graders. The goal is to motivate them to explore STEM opportunities as they continue their education. The academies serve students that are historically under represented in STEM. Students who live in inner cities or rural locations, those who are socio-economically disadvantaged, low in academic performance, or have a disability are in the target group. The program encourages students to set goals and achieve them.

The program engages students through the inquiry-based curriculum with its “hands-on, minds-on”; experiential activities. Each academy chooses a customized curriculum from a large offering of peer-reviewed learning opportunities in each STEM area, such as: Newton’s Laws and Bernoulli’s principle, robotics, and engineering as they use the computer to design space stations, all-terrain vehicles, and submersibles. Math is embedded throughout the curriculum and students use metric measurement, estimation, calculation geometry, and data analysis to solve questions. Teamwork is stressed as they work together to explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate concepts.

Military volunteers apply abstract principles to real-world situations by leading tours and giving lectures on the use of STEM in different settings and careers. Since the academies are located in different branches of the military this experience is highly varied. Students may discuss how chemical fires are extinguished, learn how injured are transported, or explore the cockpit of an F-18 or the interior of a submarine.


The academies work with school districts to support their standards of learning objectives. A teacher whose class attended DoD STARBASE stated, STARBASE teaches science and math in ways that we wish we had the time, resources, and expertise to do in the regular classroom. It’s experiential, exploratory learning with a direct tie to the Standards.

In recent years, STARBASE offerings expanded to include STARBASE 2.0, a unique school-based afterschool program that targets at-risk 6th to 8th graders (coming soon to Guam). The program takes place in partnering schools that have expressed the desire for additional DoD STARBASE program resources. As with other school-based afterschool mentoring programs, DoD STARBASE 2.0 is highly structured and is intended to help support school goals by increasing student interest and knowledge in STEM, increasing engagement with school, and increasing STEM career awareness. Individual programs use a variety of different team projects to achieve these goals. STEM projects include topics like Scalextrics, robotics, rocketry, engineering, physics, FIRST LEGO League, solar cars, chemistry, technology, and aerospace. Mentors play a vital role in the success of the program by serving as successful STEM professional coaches and role models.

Mission & Vision

Mission Statement 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.

Vision Statement 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 advance technological requirements of the Department of Defense.


The DoD STARBASE Program first originated in Detroit, Michigan as Project STARS in 1991. The original curriculum focused on exposing at-risk youth, (4-6 grade) to innovative hands-on activities in science, technology, and mathematics based on the physics of flight. Under the guidance of Brig. Gen. David Arendts, 127th wing commander at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, students were invited to Selfridge to participate and witness the application of scientific
concepts in a “real world” setting. National Guard personnel demonstrated the use of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology in their fields of expertise and served as role models to the attending students.

In FY 1993, the U.S. Congress appropriated funds for DoD STARBASE and piloted the program in seven states. There are locations spread across the United States and its territories. To accommodate the growing demand for additional STEM programs, a structured after school mentoring program, STARBASE 2.0, for middle school students was piloted in 2010 at five locations. The program’s success relies on collaboration between the sponsoring military unit and STARBASE Academy, the school district, and local communities. The goal is for each STARBASE Academy to sponsor a 2.0 program.


DoD STARBASE offers a positive, proven approach to engendering excitement and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). This knowledge is important to our nation’s future because:

  • During this decade, employment in science and engineering  occupations is expected to increase at almost four times the rate for all occupations.

  • In 2015, just 40% of U.S. 4th graders were rated at or above proficient in a national mathematics assessment (NAEP, and more than 1 in 10 scored below the basic level.

  • Only 42% of U.S. high school graduates in 2015 met the ACT College Readiness Benchmark in mathematics and 36% in science.

  • The rapid pace of technological change, and globalization of the economy, simply demands that our workforce be literate in science and math.

  • STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17% from 2006 to 2018, compared to 9.8% growth for non-STEM occupations.

  • An over-reliance on the math and science talent of foreign students represents a major potential weakness in the future competitiveness and vitality of the U.S. economy and workforce.

  • Students who attend DoD STARBASE Academies increase their knowledge and skills in STEM.

  • Students who attend DoD STARBASE improve their attitudes about and their confidence in STEM.

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