Some Thoughts from the Executive Director, Bill Hayden

Bill Hayden at STARBASE

The last couple of years have certainly been challenging…in so many ways! We held our first gala, “Launching Futures”, on March 11, 2020. It was a lot of fun and a great success…and the next day the world as we knew it shut down!

We have all worked our way through the masks and shots, starts and stops…and, lately, the snows. Through it all, the children have to be wondering: “What is going on? Will things ever return to normal??” I think most everyone wants what is best for them. Certainly, we want them to be safe. And we want them to keep learning.

Like the rest of the school system…and society in general…STARBASE has been impacted by the ebb and flow of this COVID pandemic. We made every effort to continue providing meaningful STEM instruction to all the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in Portsmouth. When the school division provided every student with a Chromebook, a door opened to continue the STARBASE program…” virtually.” Everyone (the students, the parents, and our instructors) learned a new way to teach and to learn: We went online.

At STARBASE, we called it “Project SCOUT” (STARBASE Connections and Outreach Using Technology). Our instructors developed simple projects that could be done safely at home. We purchased the materials, put them in packages (along with a STARBASE t-shirt) and mailed them to student homes. Our instructors would go online with the students during the school day and work with them on those projects. The students were encouraged to go online again after school and follow prepared instructions to complete additional projects.

It worked. To no one’s surprise, it wasn’t as effective as in-person instruction, but it worked. We continued to engage the students this year when busing issues prevented them from coming to STARBASE. Is this the “new normal”? Time will tell.
Before I sign off…did you know that STARBASE began in Portsmouth in 2002? So, this year is our 20th Anniversary. You will be hearing more about our successes and our plans for the future. I invite you to join the celebration…and consider donating ($20 for 20 years!)