Industry and STEM Education – It’s a partnership

By: Christine Suter
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There is a reason that STARBASE Victory maintains relationships with industry partners at the local and national level. Industry partners provide critical support for the STARBASE Victory program both in terms of financial assistance and strategic direction to ensure that the STEM curriculum prepares students for STEM careers and generates excitement and interest in the field. STEM Education Coalition Executive Director James Brown recently stated that “Public- private partnerships and incentives that promote business and industry engagement are vital components in STEM education activities and integration.” The STARBASE Victory model is just that, a public-private partnership,

To ensure that our technological fields are staffed with qualified individuals, education must prepare students to become employees in these fields. An open dialog between industry and educators is critical to meeting future technological needs. STARBASE Victory maintains a strong partnership with industry leaders in shipbuilding, transportation, engineering, and energy. Huntington Ingalls Industries (formerly Newport News Shipbuilding) leads the production, fabrication, and assembly of all Navy nuclear aircraft carriers. Enabling transit across the Elizabeth River between Portsmouth and Norfolk, the Elizabeth River Crossing is a local transportation cornerstone. Our partners participate in summer camp “lunch and learn” sessions where employees describe their careers and the skills to succeed in STEM-focused careers. Additionally, STARBASE Victory students and summer campers attend field trips at local industries and universities which provides further demonstrations of STEM skills and STEM career paths.

In the summer of 2015, we partnered with the Churchland Rotary club to begin a STARBASE STEM program for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Portsmouth. This camp uses the LittleBits system of magnetic modules that, when tied together teach the children how an electrical “system” works, from sensor to power pack to actuator. Students from the Boys and Girls Clubs attend a field experience to Maryview Hospital to see how electrical systems are used to help people.

SPACEBASE summer camps for rising 5th graders explore spatial literacy, modeling, graphing, team building, and leadership skills.  Using GPS (Global Positioning Systems) combined with a software program called "Mapping Your Neighborhood", students work in teams to generate and organize data, then present that data graphically.  During their walking tour of Olde Town Portsmouth, each team locates and interacts with local businesses, ultimately creating a brochure representing the areas they visited. These are just a few examples of some of our collaboration with local industries and educational institutions that contribute to STARBASE Victory being a STEM education leader.

Several studies have shown that early exposure to STEM education can help spark a child’s interest in these subject areas. STARBASE Victory does just this with its four day program for all 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students in Portsmouth Public Schools. Through continued collaboration and partnership with industry, STEM education programs like STARBASE Victory, can continue to be valuable tools to prepare the next generation of workers in STEM fields. For more information on our current partners, please read more on our website.