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franklin county times

Starbase-Atlantis students graduate

By Staff
COUNTDOWN Ten-year-old Kyantra Stidman, left, and Joan Johnston, Starbase-Atlantis instructor, get Stidman's rocket ready for launch. Fifth-graders from Harris Upper Elementary School launched rockets to celebrate their graduation from the hands-on, science-based class offered by the Naval Education and Training Professional and Technology Center. Photo by Lynette Wilson/The Meridian Star
By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Dec. 12, 2002
The children counted down five, four, three, two, one, blast off and the rocket shot into the air only to parachute to the ground moments later accompanied by thunderous applause.
The rocket launch was part of a ceremony at Naval Air Station-Meridian celebrating the graduation of the first Starbase-Atlantis class.
More than 20 Harris Upper Elementary School fifth-graders participated in this week's graduation ceremonies by launching rockets they made. A class of fifth-graders from five other area schools graduated this week; the last class will graduate Monday.
The program began in October.
Starbase-Atlantis, operated by the Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center, is designed to teach fifth-graders through hands-on math, science and technology lessons.
The program's goal is to foster community-military partnerships as well as develop self-esteem and positive attitudes among students. Curriculum is taught on base over five weeks and includes physics, astronomy, weather and teamwork.
Teacher Rita Riess said the program helped students learn critical-thinking skills that will help with science experiments she plans for next semester.
In addition to learning about physics, air and pressure differentials and the four forces of flight, children sat in the flight simulator, looked at the equipment pilot's use and visited air traffic control.
Riess said building the rocket took about four hours. If the students didn't take responsibility and apply what they learned, she said, "the rocket would have fallen apart."
Eleven-year-old Jason Riddle said the rocket wasn't difficult to build it just took a lot of glue.
Of the Starbase-Atlantis experience, he said, "It's more fun than learning from textbooks."
The program's next session will begin after the Christmas break.