Heinrich Introduces Amendment To Fund National STEM Program For K-12 Graders

Funding would ensure STARBASE program at Kirtland Air Force Base continues to serve students.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, has introduced an amendment to the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would authorize $25 million for the Department of Defense's (DOD) STARBASE education program. 

The STARBASE Program allows kindergarten through twelfth grade students to participate in hands-on curriculum with military installations where they solve scientific challenges related to aerospace. Students learn the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills in real world situations and develop essential math and science fundamentals, while fostering positive relationships between military bases and their surrounding communities.  The Administration's fiscal year 2016 budget request would eliminate the program. 

In New Mexico, the DOD STARBASE program is hosted by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) in Albuquerque, and has served nearly 8,000 5th grade students. The program at KAFB is specifically tailored to promote interest in Space and Directed Energy technology and encourage student interest in pursuing STEM careers. Senator Heinrich's amendment would ensure the academy continues to receive funding.

"STARBASE is a vital program that helps foster the next generation of STEM leaders across the country, and it's an invaluable tool for New Mexico students," said Sen. Heinrich. "And if we continue to invest in STEM education programs, we will prepare our students for a 21st century economy that requires 21st century skill sets."

The STARBASE program also connects students with military volunteers who lead tours and give lectures on the use of STEM in different work settings and careers. STARBASE currently operates at 76 locations in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, primarily on military installations.  Since its inception in 1991, more than 825,000 students have benefitted from the STARBASE Program. Last year, 45,000 students from 900 schools in 300 school districts participated in the program.

STARBASE is a highly effective program run by our dedicated servicemembers and strengthens the relationships between the military, communities, and local school districts.

Cosponsors of this amendment include U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Isakson (R-Ga.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).