Klamath Falls, Oregon — Not all of Kingsley Field is quiet on a “down day” after a busy drill weekend. The base’s science classrooms saw plenty of action March 9, when Mrs. Dahm’s fifth-grade class at Pelican Elementary School began Starbase, a Department of Defense program that engages youth with science, technology, engineering and math.
Kingsley’s Starbase program has been running for the last 25 years. It hosts 1,000 students from across the Basin annually.
This year’s program began in the Starbase computer lab, where Pelican students used computer-aided design(CAD) software to draw rocket-shaped key chains emblazoned with “Starbase” in block letters.Their designs were sent wirelessly to a 3-D printer at the back of the room to be printed in red plastic asa program takeaway.
A lunchtime movie also featured the use of 3-D technology, not for fun keepsakes but for practical application in diverse industries: sugary confections in baking, concrete buildings in construction and plastic prosthetics in medicine.
“I didn’t know babies were born without all their parts,” said a student after the movie’s segment on e-NABLE, a global network of people using 3-D printers to create free prosthetic hands for those in need.
Next, the class moved to worktables to learn the metric system of measurement that is used at the International Space Station and in most countries on earth.
They immediately applied the lesson by measuring liquid in milliliters, solids in grams and distances in centimeters for an experiment called “Pop Goes the Fizz” that tested how far they could launch rockets (film canisters) with different amounts of rocket fuel (Alka Seltzer tablets).
“I love it here. This is the best!” said Paxton Jensen at the “Bravo” table.
Lizzie Hitchcock from “Charlie” table agreed. “This is even more fun than the parties here!” she said, recalling multiple base visits with family.
The day’s finale was an experiment in which students designed protection for uncooked eggs before buckling them into spacecrafts and crash-landing them on the moon (a concrete block).
The activity required students to collaborate in groups, negotiate design challenges and work within a budget to purchase packing peanuts, craft sticks, cotton balls and other supplies.
There was lots of laughter and learning as the students observed repeated failed landings, including one that left half a shell in the cockpit and yolk on the floor.
“We just want them to be excited about science and math,” said Jennifer Cook, who co-taught the day’s curriculum with Laura Gibson.
Considering the smiles on day one of a five-day program, that mission already was accomplished.