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STARBASE Nellis teaches, reaches Las Vegas Valley students

Nevaeh Williams,10, uses a hot glue gun to construct a bridge out of popsicle sticks, styrofoam peanuts and dried lasagna pasta May 10, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The science experiment is used to help students understand buoyancy.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jason Couillard)

Nevaeh Williams,10, uses a hot glue gun to construct a bridge out of popsicle sticks, styrofoam peanuts and dried lasagna pasta May 10, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The science experiment is used to help students understand buoyancy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jason Couillard)

Students from Lomie Heard Elementary School learn how to calculate volume during a math exercise on the first day of STARBASE Nellis, Apr. 23. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jessica Martin)

Students from Lomie Heard Elementary School learn how to calculate volume during a math exercise on the first day of STARBASE Nellis, Apr. 23. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jessica Martin)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- STARBASE Nellis opened its classroom doors here to Las Vegas Valley youth in April, instructing them in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The community outreach program, under the stewardship of the U.S. Air Force Reserve's 926th Group, is Nevada's first Department of Defense sponsored academy.

"As a Reserve unit, our members are often permanent citizens of Nevada. We plant roots and grow families here, and as a group we search for opportunities to give back to our community," said Col. John Breeden, 926th Group commander. "STARBASE Nellis has the potential to benefit hundreds of children a year for many years to come, and we're so proud to be involved from the ground up here."

With a staff of two teachers and administrators, as well as assistance from base volunteers, STARBASE Nellis is postured to instruct up to 1,300 students annually.

"We're extremely excited to kick off this program," said Myles Judd, STARBASE Nellis director. "It's truly a team effort between the Reserve and Regular Air Force here. We are invested in the future of our nation, and we're working together to positively impact the local youth."

STARBASE serves to raise the interest and improve the knowledge of at-risk students in the STEM fields, leading to a skilled American workforce that can meet the advanced technological requirements of the nation.

The program partners with Clark County School District schools to provide 20-25 hours of instruction using a common core curriculum in line with national standards. Students participate in hands-on activities studying Newton's Laws and Bernoulli's principle; exploring nanotechnology, navigation and mapping; using computer software to design space stations, all-terrain vehicles and submersibles; and using metric measurement, estimation, calculation geometry and data analysis to solve equations. Additionally, the students interact with military personnel to observe STEM applications in the real world and explore career options.

"I think it's a great program; all items--math, writing, reading, science, logic--are incorporated into each activity, so each lesson flows to the next," said Carol Kerns, Lomie Heard Elementary School special education teacher. "While observing the class I thought of test questions we use and saw how the experiments help give the kids a better understanding of the material we're teaching."

STARBASE originated at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., in 1990. Today the program has 76 academies in 40 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The 926th GP secured the DoD grant for Nevada in August 2011.