After 25 hours of learning in a classroom, fifth grade students at W.H. Rhodes Elementary School launched the culmination of their hard work into the sky on Friday.
Locally through STARBASE-Atlantis, a Navy community outreach program, fifth grade students from local elementary schools visit NAS Whiting Field to learn about rocketry and the physics of flight. It gives the students hands-on experience with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
At the end of their class, students launch their own model rockets into the sky at the Whiting Field soccer complex, which is what Sondra Simmons' fifth grade class did on Friday. Other fifth grade classes from the school will be launching rockets this week.
The purpose of the program, according to Keith Washington, director of program operations, is to spark an interest in math and sciences.
Washington said students in the class use computer aided design (CAD), talk with professionals working in STEM careers and build the rockets, among several other hands-on activities.
According to a February 2012 report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, economic projections point to a need for approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than the U.S. will produce at the current rate over the next decade if the country is to "retain its historical preeminence in science and technology."
The report points out that less than 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field completes with a STEM degree.
Through programs such as STARBASE-Atlantis and similar programs, such as STABASE 2.0, an after school mentoring program offered to middle school students, Washington said they hope to spark an interest in the STEM fields and keep student involved through higher education.
For more information on STARBASE-Atlantis visit www.netc.navy.mil/community/starbase/Default.aspx