STARBASE Victory Celebrates 20 Years Delivering Early STEM Education to Portsmouth Public Schools and Beyond

(Portsmouth, VA August 29, 2022) STARBASE Victory is an award-winning, public/private partnership with Portsmouth Public Schools.  The program has been providing exciting STEM experiences to 4th, 5th, and 6th graders for 20 years and has over 20,000 graduates.

In addition to supporting PPS students during the school year, STARBASE expands STEM skills with free, quality camps every summer. This past summer STARBASE held eighteen camps with specific curricula for rising 4th graders through rising 8th graders.

STARBASE also serves the community at large, providing demonstrations and hand-on activities during public events in Portsmouth and beyond.  During the pandemic when students could not attend school, STARBASE instructors created and delivered Project SCOUT (STARBASE Connections & Outreach Using Technology), an innovative online initiative.  A study of Project SCOUT conducted by STEM Consulting Services indicated that students and their parents want more STEM experiences. As a result, STARBASE is continuing to develop online opportunities with interactive focus, even as students return to schools. One of these, Project Oysters, is a collaborative effort with the Oyster Reef Keepers.  It introduces students to oysters: how to raise them and how to conduct a scientific investigation into oyster growth. Episodes cover scientific investigation of habitat, basic anatomy, how oysters perform as filter feeders and an analysis of their impact on water quality.   

Another effort to expand STEM opportunities was the Boys and Girls Club Portsmouth initiative. The after-school program was launched in April with two, four-day sessions at the new Portsmouth facility. The first session provided children 8–12 years old with a challenge to design, build and then race paper “tractors” using SPHERO robots as motors. The second session used the same STEM project but was geared for teens. STARBASE hopes to partner with the Boys and Girls Clubs to repeat these sessions in Portsmouth in the coming years.

An inaugural Launching Futures STEM Awards Dinner was held way back on March 11, 2020 (the evening before the pandemic “hit”, and the world changed).  STARBASE was forced to delay holding a second event, but the next Launching Futures STEM Awards Dinner will be held on October 6th with presenting sponsors Newport News Shipbuilding and Collins Machine.  Over twenty additional sponsors have signed up to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the STARBASE program.  This year’s focus will be to recognize the commitment of the Portsmouth community in support of early STEM education and its value in building the region’s future workforce. Captain Dianna Wolfson, USN, is the 110th Commander of Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth and will be the keynote speaker. We will be recognizing STEM champions who have supported STARBASE over the years:

  • Sustained Corporate Support of STEM Education Award - Norfolk Naval Shipyard
  • Small Business Support of STEM Education - Fairlead/Jerry Miller
  • Lifetime Contributor to Early STEM Education - Children’s Museum
  • STEM Educator of the Year - Farren Webb, Grade 5, Victory Elementary School

A fifth recognition, the STEM Innovator Award, will be announced at the event as well as recognition for the first two STARBASE STEM scholarship recipients:  Madeleine Babcock, a 2020 graduate of Churchland High School who is attending The College of William and Mary in Marine Science and Zion Alleah Hill, a 2020 graduate of I.C. Norcom High School who is attending George Mason University, studying for a degree in medicine.  Both are STARBASE graduates!

“STARBASE and Portsmouth Public Schools have enjoyed a 20-year relationship, and we look forward to another 20 years of inspiring STEM opportunities for the children of Portsmouth.”  RADM Bill Hayden, USN (Ret), founder and executive director of STARBASE Victory, Inc.

Support Launching Futures…for the next 20 years.

STARBASE Brings STEM Projects to the Boys and Girls Club

STARBASE Victory is proud to announce a partnership with The Boys and Girls Club in Portsmouth at the organization’s new facility. The after-school, two-hour program began this month in two sessions of four days each. The first session was provided for 8-12 year old youth with an activity to build individual SPHERO robotic chariots which they coded and then raced to the finish line in the maze. The second session used the same STEM project but was geared for twelve year old and older youth. Partnering with Women in Defense Greater Hampton Roads Chapter (WIDGHR), Arizone Hollins Brown, President & Chief Executive Officer, ASJ IT Services, was our first volunteer who attended and shared with the youth about her career including maintaining airplanes in the Air Force and how she used STEM in her company. They asked great questions, and when they seemed a little stumped on what software means, Bill Hayden was on hand to help. There were three “graduates” of the STARBASE 6th grade program, so Bill shared that when they coded the drones in AEROBASE they were using software.

We will continue holding sessions for the Boys and Girls Club so stay tuned. We also hope to expand the program to other locations.

Interested in getting involved? We will be offering volunteer opportunities during the fourth graduation day as we are doing with WIDGHR. We need roughly $2500 to run the program for a full year, which includes the instructors’ compensation and the kits the kids use. We will recognize you and your employees in our media and website. A donation of $300 will make quite a difference in how we can continue to expand the program. So, let’s get nine people to cover those expenses!