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NEWS | Dec. 2, 2022

Secretary Crenshaw visits Winchester STARBASE Academy

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Retired Maj. Gen. Craig Crenshaw, Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, and retired Brig. Gen. Walt Mercer, Virginia Department of Military Affairs Chief Operations Officer, visited students taking part in activities at the Winchester STARBASE Academy Nov. 29, 2022, at the Virginia National Guard's Cherry-Beasley Readiness Center in Winchester, Virginia. During the visit, students from Redbud Run Elementary School took part in hands-on lessons on Newton’s Laws of Motion and the engineering design process. Crenshaw also met with STARBASE staff to learn more about the program as well as full-time VNG Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “The STARBASE fundamental, hands on STEM introduction builds confidence and inspiration in our youth at the right time," Crenshaw said.  "It can be positively life changing and is important to the security of our nation as we compete globally." STARBASE is Congressionally authorized as a Department of Defense Civil Military Program where licensed instructors provide 25 hours of hands-on, rigorous and real-world experiences in a high-tech environment over five days. The goal is to inspire and educate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and expand their awareness of future STEM careers while providing a model and vision for STEM education to local school districts and educators. "We really appreciated Secretary Crenshaw taking the time to come out and get to know our STARBASE program and staff," Mercer said. "We also had the opportunity to tour the readiness center and meet with the 3rd Battalion officer in charge and other full-time staff, which was informative as to how our day to day operations run at our RC's, and the Soldiers were able to interact with him in person." STARBASE Academy is an integral part of the community, engaging and inspiring students to consider the possibilities for their future, Mercer said. “The Winchester STARBASE Academy has been busy engaging and inspiring students of all ages this year,” said Dr. Susan Corrigan, the Winchester STARBASE Academy director. During the summer of 2022, the STARBASE staff hosted two weeks of summer camp at the Winchester Readiness Center for fifth grade students as well as seven half-day programs at the various Parks and Recreation Basic Rec Programs for children from kindergarten through fifth grade. As part of STARBASE 3.0 in collaboration with STARBASE programs in Kansas and West Virginia, instructors taught high school JROTC cadets how to build and program a BOE Shield Robot and accomplish a variety of challenges. STARBASE instructors also supported the Virginia National Guard Youth Camp at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach where they helped campers make foam rockets and taught lessons using Ozobots. The also used EV3 robots with Commonwealth ChalleNGe cadets one afternoon while they were at SMR. For the 2022-2023 school year, Corrigan said they have taught 29 classes of students for the five-day, 25-hour program, reaching approximately 600 fifth grade students. By the end of the school year, they will have taught 61 classes and reached approximately 1400 students. They also held a STARBASE 2.0, an after-school program for 20 hours over 10 weeks, at James Wood Middle School. The students used a variety of technology to accomplish different challenges such as EV3 robots, littleBits electronic circuitry, drones and virtual reality headsets. Corrigan explained STARBASE instructors continue to engage with the local community outside of the regular programs as they participated in a Girls in Aviation Day at the Winchester Regional Airport where they taught girls to make and launch foam rockets. STARBASE also hosts education students from nearby Shenandoah University to learn about teaching children through a hands-on, inquiry-based model. As part of an ongoing collaboration with Martinsburg STARBASE, Corrigan said their instructors taught two activities at the Martinsburg STARBASE Family STEM night. Corrigan said STARBASE instructors continued their professional development with one instructor attending training in Louisiana to learn about the American Rocketry Challenge and how to use this with either STARBASE 2.0 or 3.0 programs. Another instructor went to a training in Florida about modeling and simulations in order to learn about the new and emerging technologies that could be used in STARBASE. Corrigan is also a member of the STARBASE Curriculum Advisory Group and was invited to attend the Modeling and Simulations Workshop to teach a lesson on how to write an Abstract and Lesson Plan for new STARBASE lessons. Read more about Winchester STARBASE at

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