Students from East Milton Elementary School launched rockets celebrating their graduation from the Starbase Atlantis program aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field May 30.

This is not the first time to Starbase Atlantis for the students’ teacher, Nicholas Stearns. Stearns was a graduate of the program back when he was a 5th grader enrolled at S.S. Dixon Intermediate School.

“Going back to Starbase Atlantis as a teacher for the first time was so surreal. Seeing the kids interact with the instructors and pilots brought back fond memories of my time at Starbase as a student,” said Stearns. “I will admit I was probably just as excited about going this year as I was all those years ago. The information the program offers young students is invaluable and is delivered in a way that they will never forget.”

While at Starbase Atlantis, the students learned about various Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and participated in several group activities. The instructors taught subjects such as the Physics of Aerodynamics, Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, basics of navigation, understanding chemistry and the engineering design process.

As a teacher, Stearns wanted his students to learn the same valuable lessons he was taught at Starbase Atlantis.

“The importance of bringing 5th grade students to Starbase goes beyond them going on a field trip that involves cool science experiments,” says Stearns. “The experience also provides students the chance to interact with actual military personnel giving them the chance to ask questions that they may have about life in the military as well the opportunity to learn that many of the people that are in the military were also normal 5th graders when they were younger.”

Starbase Atlantis has had more than 100,000 graduates since its launching in September 1994. NAS Whiting Field is one of the 15 locations throughout naval installations in the United States. Starbase Atlantis Whiting Field has graduated 15,356 students since its opening.

The highlight of the week is the launching of rockets after the students’ graduation.

“My favorite activity at Starbase as a student was building a rocket,” said Stearns. “Today, as a teacher, it is building a rocket!”