20/20 is perfect vision. 2020 is going to be remembered as the Year of Chaos. And the 20/21
school year is going to be remarkably interesting.
Portsmouth schools have started the year in the “virtual” mode, and STARBASE will join that
effort the middle of October. Like everyone, we are disappointed that “in person” classes are not yet
occurring as we know that is the best choice…for students, parents, and the teachers. However, we are
excited about the possibilities that virtual learning will give us all.
We believe our new Project SCOUT (STARBASE Connections & Outreach Using Technology) will develop
broader interest in STEM education by engaging students, their parents, and perhaps even their siblings.
Initially (and perhaps for the entire year), there will be two STARBASE experiences for all 4 th , 5 th, and 6 th
grade students. The first will be embedded in the virtual learning day for students. Not every day,
naturally, but during the course of the school year, we will engage all of those 3,000 students. Our
instructors will be online, working with them on a STARBASE project. Then, after school, there will be
additional projects for them to do at home. We will send individual “kits” to student homes with a
STARBASE T-shirt and the materials necessary to perform exciting projects.
As an example of how our virtual program is different, the 6 th grade kits will not include the rockets that
everyone enjoys (sorry…too dangerous). However, AEROBASE which will continue to emphasize
elementary physics and introduce Mars exploration to 1000 6th graders. The goal is to engage students
in a virtual version of our 6th grade STARBASE Program, Mission Mars. Students will study Newton's
Laws of Motion as they model work by scientists and use NASA resources to explore Mars colonization
concepts and the science behind the mission. Students will create and test an experimental design using
straw rockets and complete coding lessons for use with a VEXcode VR Rover.
The home projects will be associated with the classroom instruction, and we hope that parents (and
brothers and sisters) will get involved. We want STARBASE to be a “family affair” this year. We have
hired an evaluation team to tell us what worked (and what didn’t), because we think these home
projects will be an experience that every child will find interesting and educational. The ones that work
will probably be use in future years…once life returns to the “new normal”. Students and parents in the
past have requested more STARBASE events, and this is an exciting, new way to provide those additional
math and science lessons.
We appreciate all that you do to help us continue with STARBASE! You may have some
connections or resources to help us engage families even more with the prizes we hope to use
to reward their participation. Please check out the list!