Posted: Oct 6, 2022, 5:49 PM
Students from four local high schools put their rocketry engineering and design skills to the test last week at South Bossier Park, practicing for events that could launch them into national competition where up to $100,000 in scholarships and prizes is at stake.
Teams from Haughton, Airline, Parkway and Caddo Magnet high schools are participating in STARBASE, a Department of Defense education program at Barksdale Air Force Base, sponsored by the 307th Bomb Wing of the Air Force Reserve Command. South Bossier Park has been a launch site for STARBASE teams for about five years.
Richard Scott, Deputy Director of STARBASE Louisiana at Barksdale AFB, said the program is an engineering project that designs, simulates, tests, and launches rockets. Students compete in The American Rocketry Challenge ( www.rocket contest.org ), where last year more than 600 teams across the nation participated.
Over the past 23 years, STARBASE Louisiana has inspired more than 35,000 Caddo and Bossier 5th through 12th grade students. It has ignited a passion for learning through collaborative STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) experiences, empowering innovators of tomorrow, Scott said.
Student participants use their scientific reasoning to make design decisions in collaborative projects as they experience the entire engineering design process, from design and manufacture of their prototype to its testing and redesign. STARBASE 2.0 is implemented at participating middle and high schools in Bossier and Caddo parishes by 2.0 instructors alongside STEM mentors from Barksdale AFB.
Scott said two teams from local schools went to the national finals in 2021, and in May of this year, STARBASE Louisiana had three local teams qualify for the finals in Washington, D.C. Also, four members of local teams are currently attending college on NASA scholarships.
Educating local students in the program costs about $700 per team, Scott said. This year, the program has about 12 teams that are funded by grants, the local non-profit STARBASE Louisiana Inc, and the Department of Defense. All students participate at no cost.