STARBASE ribbon cutting

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Goodfellow Air Force Base announced a new development in its Community Partnership by way of the STARBASE program, which celebrated its ribbon cutting at the STARBASE Goodfellow building Oct. 4.

STARBASE Goodfellow is one of four academies in Texas and will serve over 1,200 students from the San Angelo Independent School District. STARBASE introduces children from all backgrounds to the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“I am one of the co-founders of the program from back in 1990,” said Barbara Koscak Department of defense requirements assessment coordinator. “I was a second grade teacher by day and then I would teach aerospace education at the graduate level at the university in the summer. I noticed a lot of students dropping out from science and math by eighth grade, and I thought what do our kids really love? While looking at that classroom, they loved dinosaurs, ghosts and airplanes. The dinosaurs are gone and the ghosts we can’t teach about but those airplanes we could. So I went to the military base down the road, and being an Air Force widow I know that base very well, and I went to the wing commander and I sat down and I told him about an idea. Why don’t we bring students out, the best mentors in the world are here with our military personnel, you can’t find anyone better, I think they would be great mentors for the students as well as showing all of the technology on the base. STEM wasn’t a word back then, so we were just trying to get the science technology and math to our Einsteins and Edisons who were just sitting there waiting. There is nothing more precious than our children and the future of our country depends on the quality of life and education that we provide for them now. I never dreamed outside the state of Michigan, then I thought if these children can be helped let's help everyone in America, and now look at it! It is a hands-on minds-on approach and that is the best way.”

The hands-on minds-on method provides a way for the children to see the correlation between the concepts they are taught and the real world effect.

“The STARBASE program at Goodfellow is meant to get the kids engaged in STEM,” said Katheryn Ganster, Goodfellow STARBASE director. “We just want to open up the door for them and give them that opportunity as well as to see what is going on at Goodfellow, meet some of the people working here, and meet people in the community come in and talk about the STEM career field.”

A large turnout filling the main STARBASE classroom showed how much the community is invested in the program.

“To see the community support, and to see people come out and support us, means that they have the back of the kids,” said Ganster. “They are here for the students of our San Angelo District and they are ready to put forth any effort that needs to be done to help our kids succeed.”

For a program like STARBASE to succeed, all of the members have to have the same goals, and the staff here are solely focused on developing the children.

“I like working with STARBASE, because personally, I think this age group of children is where you can have the most impact on their life,” said Tim Maddox, Goodfellow STARBASE teacher. “Most of them have not thought about the STEM fields before and this gives us the chance to really give them an immersive step into that. I enjoy it because I think that I am making a difference. I am encouraging these kids to go outside of their regular interests and pursue something that may be a career in the future.”

While not all students will pursue a career in STEM, STARBASE serves as an introduction to a world of possibilities.

“The goal of STARBASE is not only to expose the students to STEM, but really it makes them believe that there is something greater that they can achieve through education and hard work,” said Col. Alejandro Ganster, 17th Training Group commander. “It opens up opportunities that perhaps they would have never been exposed to, and in the end it also exposes them to other possibilities in life, showing them that their future is not predetermined because they were born in a particular neighborhood, city or demographic.”