New Hampshire officials are seeking to set up a National Guard program to encourage children to pursue science and technology careers, in a move that would mirror programs in other states.
In a request to the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee this week, the state’s Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services is seeking $179,461 in federal funds to help set up the program, known as STARBASE. The money is intended to go toward desks, chairs, computers, office supplies, and printed educational materials, according to a letter the department sent to the committee.
First started in Detroit in 1991, STARBASE is a U.S. Department of Defense program designed to provide children between fourth and sixth grade hand-on learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Lessons can include “robotics, rocketry, engineering, physics, FIRST LEGO League, solar cars, chemistry, technology, and aerospace,” according to the program’s website. Versions of the program currently exist in 40 states.
The STARBASE course is intended to “use the National Guard to raise the interest and improve the knowledge and skills of at-risk youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which will provide for a highly educated and skilled American workforce that can meet the advanced technological requirements of the Department of Defense,” Adjutant General David Mikolaities wrote in his letter to the committee.
It is unclear whether New Hampshire’s version of the course will be run as an extracurricular after school program or a class that could lead to school credit. A program created by the New Hampshire Department of Education, Learn Everywhere, requires that public schools accept credits from external learning programs, provided that the programs are approved by the State Board of Education.
Funding for New Hampshire’s STARBASE will come from a “Federal-State Master Cooperative Agreement” set up between the department and the National Guard, department officials said.
The fiscal committee will take up the item Friday; it will then need approval from the Executive Council.