St. Joseph’s Indian School Students Experience Starbase Week

Three … two … one … BLAST OFF! Students launched water rockets as part of a Starbase science unit at St. Joseph’s.

To step into the 5th-grade classroom the second week of school at St. Joseph’s Indian School was to step into anything but business-as-usual.

Bugs Bunny, Wildcat, Sponge Bob, Yo-Yo, Neon Kangaroo and Burnt Toast were among the 26 students and staff intensely engaged in the Department of Defense (DoD) Starbase curriculum. The program provides 25 hours of “hands-on, minds-on” activities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The “call-signs” are just one way the DoD representatives who conduct the program promote a learning environment intended to motivate students to explore STEM opportunities, set goals and achieve them.

Trinity and Brooklynn were two of 26 students who took part in the fun STEM activities.

On Thursday morning, students Capricorn (AKA Trinity) and Fly Like an Eagle (AKA Brooklynn) summed up the week in one word, “fun,” accompanied by one gesture, a thumbs up. The pair were busy programming their Lego robot to go from school to the Sphero Factory on a large floor mat without running into any of the other buildings and parks on the way.

The weeklong curriculum included working with solar fountains, a buoyancy and density activity involving clay boats, creating compounds using a digital app on an iPad, metric system activities, physics, chemistry, technology, energy, engineering and mathematics adventures.

The grand finale of the week always ends with a field trip. This year, students went to the Ellsworth Air Force Base to visit the South Dakota Air and Space Museum!

Starbase instructors Lori Jeffrey-Kirk and Mary Larscheid Christensen have presented Starbase at St. Joseph’s for several years. Their repartee punctuates the lesson, teasing even the squirmiest student to remained focused.

St. Joseph’s Teachers Sunny (AKA Brock) and Bald Eagle (AKA Ron) actively participated in the learning experience.

“The Starbase program allows our students to explore and learn about new concepts using materials and programs we may not normally have access to,” said Brock.

Ron added, “We appreciate the caliber of the instructors. Not only are they knowledgeable, but also they are good role models.”

Learn more about educational opportunities at St. Joseph’s Indian School by visiting 

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

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