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Starbase team visits Bonlee School

Posted Sunday, February 25, 2007

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Bonlee, NC - A Black Hawk helicopter carrying a crack commando team of teachers landed Tuesday morning, January 23, at Bonlee School. Their mission: to make science and math fun. The five-member squad of retired teachers arrived via the helicopter to kick off a week of "Starbase" for Bonlee fourth and fifth graders.

During the week, they filled classrooms with hands-on experiments, the ideal of teamwork and lots of enthusiasm. The helicopter visit is a component of the National Guard's STARBASE program. After the helicopter landed, the entire school was allowed to tour the helicopter and meet the flight team. While the “Starbase' classroom activities got underway, some Bonlee teachers, Bonlee administrators Brent Cooper and Tracy Fowler, and system administrators Dr. Ann Hart and Paul Joyce were treated to a helicopter ride over the Bonlee area.

"It provides a military connection, and it promotes the idea of teamwork. The flight crew and maintenance crew all have to work together for a flight to be successful,” said Barbara Miller, director of the N.C. STARBASE program, as she commented on the importance of the symbolism of the helicopter.

The Starbase Program is sponsored by the North Carolina Air National Guard and is based at the Charlotte Air National Guard Base. Since 1993, the program has reached out to over 17,000 North Carolina children. Students spend time with military role models while gaining math, science and aviation knowledge. The team educates students through the STARBASE--Science and Technology Academics Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration program.

The five teachers, called "commanders" by students, each teach a module in the classroom with a different focus. Each student receives a set of dog tags with his/her name and flight number, as well as a flight log to record all of the activities of the week. Students are grouped in companies of four. Each was assigned a specific job: pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and navigator. The dependence on each other teaches life lessons that go beyond the classroom. The STARBASE program meets curriculum standards in multiple areas, especially in areas of physics, such as “Force, Energy, Aeronautics and Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion”.

Students traveled to four classroom activity centers every day to conduct experiments and learn to work cooperatively as teams. Each instructor's activity focused on concepts such as aerodynamics, equalization of pressure in a chamber. In addition to lessons on math and science, STARBASE also brings an anti-drug message. In one of the modules, for instance, students get to see through "Fatal Vision." First students are asked to do simple tasks, like touch their fingers together. Then, they try on the "fatal vision" goggles that affect their vision to show how they would see things under the influence of drugs.
Jane Andrews, media coordinator at Bonlee, noted the students' favorite activity of the week was building and launching rockets. They assembled the rockets during an aeronautics session and sent them up as parents and other students watched.

The culminating event was a STARBASE program graduation led by Captain Michelle Harper, Deputy Starbase Director. The STARBASE curriculum is tailored to help students set high goals for academic and personal achievements.

“The fourth and fifth grade students of Bonlee School will never forget their learning experiences or the life skills that they discovered during this outstanding program. I have had parents tell me that their children had never been so excited about coming to school each day as during this week. This means we have achieved our goal,” said Andrews.

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Starbase team visits Bonlee School
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