FORT SILL, Okla.--An enhanced math and science curriculum for 5th and 6th graders will continue -- thanks to a donation from Raytheon Network Centric System to the STARBASE Oklahoma program.

Jim Cunningham, Raytheon business development manager, presented the $5,000 check to a group of 5th graders from Geronimo Road School and to Brenda Spencer-Ragland, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

"I am very proud of Raytheon for this impressive donation. This donation will allow us to continue and provide a math and science curriculum that has received numerous positive comments from the students, parents and teachers," said Spencer-Ragland. "It's a partnership that is making a difference and through the generous donation of corporate heroes such as Raytheon. I fully expect the partnership to continue for years."

Cunningham told the students and adults gathered at the Youth Center, Raytheon has a vested interest in the STARBASE program because most of the defense contractor's employees are engineers. "We (Raytheon) need engineers to stay at the forefront of technology so we put a lot of resources into these kinds of programs," said Cunningham. "If we hired all the engineering students in the nation there would still be a severe shortage. That just illustrates how important programs like STARBASE are in giving students a fun introduction to science, technology, engineering and math."

According to Cunningham, a Raytheon employee invented the microwave in 1947 because he walked past a radar system with a chocolate bar in his pocket. "His chocolate bar melted when he passed the radar and he had the engineering knowledge to know he had discovered something new and he invented the radar range or the modern microwave oven," he said.
Melissa Myers, an instructor with the STARBASE program for the last year said as a science teacher she knows the value of a program like STARBASE. "I enjoy it most because it's open-ended. These students can get as much knowledge from the program as they want. The sky is the limit."

And the sky is literally the limit as they build and launch rockets. Tomorrow these post students might fly an F-16 or work for Raytheon.

The students are taking part in the STARBASE Oklahoma program offered by the Oklahoma Air National Guard. The program set up classes at the Fort Sill Youth Center to give students on post the chance to explore science and technology for five weeks of classroom instruction. During the sixth week, the classes have a field day where students have the opportunity to travel and experience real world activities that reiterate their classes.

STARBASE Oklahoma, a partnership between the National Guard, Fort Sill's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs and Lawton Public Schools, is a hands-on, inquiry-based aerospace education program intended to inspire students to further explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Over the course of the five weeks of instruction, the students, or "cadets" as they are known at STARBASE, will learn more about such subjects as astronomy, rocketry, hydroponics, physics along the line of Newton's Laws of Motion, with constant emphasis on team building. Cadets are introduced to new vocabulary, mathematical concepts, scientific processes and inquiry, problem-solving and hands-on experiments to experience what they are learning.