Native American students learn about chemical reactions.

Students conducted experiments to learn
about physical and chemical reactions.

Fifth-grade students at St. Joseph's Indian School recently participated in Starbase. The high-tech science program operates out of a mobile classroom, reaching students all over South Dakota.

“It’s a pretty amazing experience,” said Brock, one of St. Joseph’s fifth-grade instructors. “The technology we have access to through the mobile classroom isn’t what we would normally use. The students have a lot of fun and learn so much.”

As an introduction to engineering, students used a computer program to create a space station, which was then printed off as a poster. They learned about chemistry by building molecules and, through the construction and launching of a rocket, they now better understand the laws of physics.

Students constructed their rockets using plastic straws, rubber tipped cones and fins of their own design. They were launched with air pressure rather than firepower, and the goal was to land the rocket on a target shaped like the moon. With each launch, students adjusted the force of air pressure and the angle of their launch to hit their target.

Lakota students launch their rocket they learned to make.

Students adjust their rocket’s angle before each
launch attempt in an effort to land on the moon target.

In addition to launching rockets, they conducted experiments that involved mixing materials together, measuring and weighing objects, and recording temperatures.

Starbase instructors travel across the state teaching science and technology while building team skills, self-esteem and encouraging personal goal setting. In the mobile classroom, the pair serves more than 500 students in numerous elementary schools across South Dakota. The program is a joint effort of the United States Department of Defense and the Army Air National Guard.


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