STARBASE Louisiana holds first-ever Family STEM Night

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle
  • 307th Bomb Wing

The halls of the STARBASE Louisiana echoed with joyful shouts of "Whoa!" and "Cool!" as Barksdale parents and children took part in the inaugural Family Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Night here last Tuesday.

The event allowed Barksdale families to learn STEM principles together using learning scenarios created by STARBASE Louisiana educators.

"It's our way of giving back to Barksdale," said Laurie Ilgenfritz, STARBASE Louisiana director. "We’ve always been able to reach the community at large during airshow years, but in a non-airshow year, we wanted to do something exclusively for Barksdale families.”

The program had three levels: 1st through 3rd grade, 4th through 5th grade, and middle school through high school.

Each student and their parents participated in a 50-minute, hands-on STEM scenario.

The 1st through 3rd graders had to solve a light-hearted criminal investigation using chromatography, a process used to separate substances in a chemical mixture.

4th and 5th graders coded robotic arms, while middle and high school students created tops using Computer Aided Design software.

After each top was created on a 3-D printer, participants competed to see which one could spin the longest.

However, the event was popular even before the first project started.

STARBASE Louisiana filled all 128 seats available for the program within 24 hours after registration opened, said Ilgenfritz.

“That showed us there is a real desire for things like this in the Barksdale community,” she said. “It's really encouraging and something we want to continue to do.”

Children who couldn’t get into Family STEM Night can get an even deeper dive with the upcoming STARBASE, Louisiana summer camps.

Camp dates, themes, and age groups include:

  • May 14-17, a water-themed camp for homeschooled and Shreve Island intersession students ages 7-10. 
  • May 28 – 31, a CSI camp for students ages 12-14.
  • June 10 – 14, a space-themed camp for students ages 9-11.
  • June 17 – 21, a space-themed camp for students ages 7-9.
  • June 17-21, a high school rocketry camp.

For more information or to register, visit