St. Joseph’s Indian School Students Experience Starbase Week

Posted on: August 26, 2021

To step into the 5th-grade classroom this week at St. Joseph’s Indian School was to step into anything but business-as-usual. Buggs Bunny, Wildcat, Sponge Bob, Yo-Yo, Neon Kangaroo and Burnt Toast were among the 26 students and staff intensely engaged in the Department of Defense (DoD) Starbase curriculum. The program provides 25 hours of “hands-on, minds-on” activities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The “call-signs” are just one way the DoD representatives who conduct the program promote a learning environment intended to motivate students to explore STEM opportunities, set goals and achieve them.

On Thursday morning, Capricorn (AKA Trinity Kills Crow) and Fly Like an Eagle (AKA Brooklynn Bear Shield) summed up the week in one word, “fun,” accompanied by one gesture, a thumbs up. The pair were busy programming their Lego robot to go from school to the Sphero Factory on a large floor mat without running into any of the other buildings and parks on the way.

The weeklong curriculum includes working with solar fountains, a buoyancy and density activity involving clay boats, creating compounds using a digital app on an iPad, metric system activities, physics, chemistry, technology, energy, engineering, and mathematics adventures.

Starbase instructors Lori Jeffrey-Kirk and Mary Larscheid Christensen have presented Starbase at the school for several years. Their repartee punctuates the lesson, teasing even the squirmiest student to remained focused.

Teachers Sunny (AKA Brock Sundall) and Bald Eagle (AKA Ron Byers) actively participated in the learning experience. “The program takes the student’s natural curiosity and leverages it to make enjoyable what might otherwise be challenging to learn,” said Sundall. Byers added, “We appreciate the caliber of the instructors. Not only are they knowledgeable, but also they are good role models. “