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Starbase Kelly summer camp students visit Southwest Research Institute

By Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison | 433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs | Aug. 6, 2019

Students participating in the Starbase Kelly summer program at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland toured the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio July 31. They received instruction and demonstrations in how the institute’s scientists use science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

According to Kathy Spalding, Starbase Kelly director, this is the first time Starbase Kelly has toured the institute.

“Starbase Kelly is about introducing children between the ages of nine to 12 years old to STEM, also known as science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Spalding said. “So of course we had to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.”

The Southwest Research Institute is a nonprofit organization that focuses on revolutionary advancements in science and technology as a service to government and commercial clients around the world.

The range of projects within the institute covers everything from earth, space and the environment, to physics, biology, robotics, national defense and more.

The Senior Program Manager of the Space, Science and Engineering Division, Gregory Fletcher, welcomed Starbase Kelly students to the institute and took the time to show them some of the projects taking place there.

The children got to see first-hand a shop focused on providing vehicles with the capabilities to drive themselves, a vacuum chamber the size of a small room, a real-life micro-satellite, a functioning ‘clean’ room and a demonstration on the properties of liquid nitrogen.

Fletcher said that he is all about getting kids involved in STEM, because it’s the way of the future.

“It’s important to bring kids here and show them what STEM can do,” he said. “If we can get them excited about these fields, it’s only going to result in a better future for all of us.”

The Starbase Kelly program has a similar mentality. Their goal is to motivate children to explore STEM by engaging them with hands-on experimental and experiential activities. For instance, the current Starbase Kelly students are building rockets.

Each program and class is varied, depending on location, timing and opportunities available. For more than 11 years, Starbase Kelly has provided a fun interactive experience in STEM for children in the local community.

For more information about Starbase Kelly call 210-925-3708 or email starbase@stic.net.