The STARBASE program was conceptualized in 1989 when there were few projects of remedial action in the mathematics and science arena in the existing educational system. The deficiencies and shortfalls in mathematics and science at that time were documented and given wide public awareness in the National Educational Report Card.
In 1991, Project STARS was developed when Barbara Koscak, Brig Gen (Ret.) David Arendts, Lt Col (Ret.) Richard “Rico” Racosky and the Mount Clemens School District successfully submitted a grant application to the Kellogg Foundation to develop and test the efficacy of the “Project STARS” program. The curriculum, designed by Barbara Koscak and Rick Sims, focused on exposing at-risk youth (4th-6th grade) to innovative hands-on activities in science, technology and mathematics based on the physics of flight. Students were invited to Selfridge Air National Guard Base to participate and witness the application of scientific concepts in a “real world” setting. National Guard personnel demonstrated the use of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their fields of expertise and served as role models to the attending students.
Project STARS was a 1 week summer program in partnership with local schools and the Michigan Air National Guard. The response to and results of the pilot program were exceptionally positive, and partnership linkage between military and local educational systems migrated to other sites around the country.
In 1993, DoD funds were made available for the National Guard to start a school-year program and DoD STARBASE was formally launched. Kansas was one of 7 original states to receive funding for the STARBASE program.
Kansas STARBASE was launched to ignite the interest of youth (4th – 6th graders) in science, technology, engineering, math, goal setting and positive life choices by exposing them to the technological environments and positive role models of the Kansas Air and Army National Guard. Even though STARBASE is a U.S. Department of Defense program and is funded accordingly, support from a variety of individuals, corporations and foundations is permissible.
Today there are more than 58 DoD STARBASE locations spanning 31 states including Puerto Rico.
STARBASE 2.0, a structured after-school mentoring program for middle school students, was piloted in 2010 at 5 locations to accommodate the growing demand for additional STEM programs. The program’s success relies on collaboration between the sponsoring military unit, the school district and local communities. 14 DoD STARBASE academies sponsored 25 DoD STARBASE 2.0 middle school programs in 13 states.