February Newsletter

The Director's Corner

Happy New Year! We can’t believe that 2023 is here and half of the school year is behind us. We hope that all of you had a wonderful holiday. We have continued our classes and looking forward to the upcoming semester. We just hosted our 17th Annual Central Georgia FIRST Lego League Super Regional Tournament. With 23 teams, along with their coaches, families, and a large host of volunteers, this year’s tournament took place without a glitch. I want to thank the STARBASE ROBINS team for making it seem so effortless. We want to thank those teams that participated, those that won awards, and especially the team that won the Director’s Tournament award, The Lockhart Award, named to honor Martha Lockhart, the STARBASE ROBINS’ Administrative Assistant, who works tirelessly to organize the overall tournament.

We are looking forward to the schools attending this semester. We will also have our Spring Saturday Spark next month. We are wrapping up with planning for our Summer Academies and are excited about the collaborations with our partners, Hancock County Library, Broward County JROTC Program, Ft. Valley State University College of Education, and Mercer University. Rising seventh and eighth grade students that attended our STEM Adventures Summer Academy will be participating for their second year as we welcome new rising sixth grade students this summer.

We would like to thank Mrs. Demetria Smith for her dedication to STARBASE for the last nine years. In November, she accepted another opportunity to grow. We welcome Ms. Anikitia Abram to the STARBASE ROBINS family. We look forward to her contributing to the STARBASE ROBINS team.

We are excited about the opportunities that will present themselves this year. Our one word for 2023 is “ObSTEMistic”. We are optimistic about the STEM opportunities that will come our way.

Let’s have a GREAT year!

Wesley Fondal Jr.,

Executive Director

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”. -- Thomas A. Edison


Mrs. Anikitia Abram

Mrs. Anikitia Abram is a graduate of Mercer University. She received a B.S. in Organizational Leadership and a Master's Degree in Business Finance (MBA). She has twenty years of diverse leadership experience including 4 years of being an elementary educator in Bibb County. When she's not in the classroom, Mrs. Abram is exploring her entrepreneurial journey by building her business brands curLUXE Naturals and Pretty Lux Co. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and six children. She is excited to add all things STEM to her book of knowledge.

Ms. Zeineb Yousif

Congratulations to Zeineb Yousif! Ms. Yousif has been promoted to Lead Instructor. She has served as a STARBASE ROBINS Instructor for the past four years. Ms. Yousif is a passionate educator who enjoys inspiring young minds in STEM and helping students discover their full potential. Her new leadership role will create opportunities to grow professionally, and influence others with her positive attitude and servant's heart. Congratulations on your promotion!

Mrs. Demetria Smith

We would like to congratulate Demetria Smith! Mrs. Smith accepted a new opportunity to grow professionally. Demetria served as the Lead Instructor. She began her journey with STARBASE ROBINS in 2013. For nine years, she has worked to educate, equip, and empower young minds in STEM. She started our STEMpowered Girls Summer Academy as a way to create opportunities for girls to develop a STEM identity. Mrs. Smith is best known for her life motto "It's a great day! every day is a great day some are better than others but every day is a great day." Congratulations Mrs. Smith and best wishes on your new job!

STARBASE 2.0 Teams Compete in the Regional Tournament

Big picture

Top - Byron Middle School, Bottom - Feagin Mill Middle School, Rutland Middle School, and Sacred Heart Catholic School

STARBASE 2.0 teams had the opportunity to compete in the First Lego League Regional Tournament hosted by Middle Georgia State University. This tournament is a qualifying event for the Central Georgia First Lego League Super Regional Qualifier. This year's theme, "Super Powered" has the teams reimaging the future of sustainable energy.

We would like to thank all of our STARBASE 2.0 teams who competed in the Regional Tournament Appling Middle School, Byron Middle School, Cirrus Academy, Feagin Mill Middle School, Rutland Middle School, and Sacred Heart Catholic School. A big thank you to all STARBASE 2.0 sponsoring teachers, coordinator/facilitators, and students for exhibiting Gracious Professionalism and fierce competition in competing against other teams in the Middle Georgia area.

We are pleased to announce that Byron Middle School advanced to the Super Regional Qualifier held last month in Columbus, Georgia. Although they did not advance to the State Competition, we are very proud of their hard work and accomplishments.

Thanks You to our FLL Sponsors, Volunteers and Teams

Big picture

STARBASE ROBINS would like to thank all of our sponsors, volunteers, and teams for supporting the Central Georgia FIRST Lego League (FLL) Super Regional Qualifier. Your contribution helped to make this year's event a success. With your support, you are helping to inspire the next generation of scientists, astronauts, doctors, and leaders.

We had 23 teams from across the state and over 300 spectators to converge here at the Museum of Aviation. Eight teams from our tournament advanced to the state competition to be held this month at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. We would like to thank Houston County's Robotics Team 3635 (The Flying Legion) for recruiting student volunteers to support and assist with our tournament and for coming to share information about their program. We would also like to thank Burger IM and Salsa Mexican Grill Food Trucks for servicing our guests onsite.

If you were a sponsor, volunteer, or came with a team, please take a moment to complete our survey by clicking on the link below. I hope you will consider joining us next year. Thank you for being a big part of our success!

Thank You to our Sponsors:

  • Carmax Cares
  • Cascade
  • Museum of Aviation Flight and Technology Center
  • Red Lobster
  • Standard Technology
  • Zaxby's

Putting A Little "Spark" In Your "Saturday" at STARBASE

Big picture

Written By: Demetria Smith

What a time had by all! The STARBASE ROBINS staff and academy students were excited to be back with one another to dive into more STEM experiments and lessons. We took some of the lessons that went over well during the summer and extended them for our Saturday Spark along with introducing new lessons. The lessons ranged from fractals with math, little bits (circuitry), Ag STEM, and team building exercises. Students tested their knowledge gained with a round of Kahoot as a ticket out the door. The students were so engaged that parents were ushered into the classroom at the end of the day because they were not ready to leave at the time of dismissal. This speaks volumes about how much learning and excitement took place in the classroom!

Middle School Students Invitied to Register for Saturday Spark

Big picture
If you missed our October Saturday Spark, STARBASE ROBINS will host another Saturday Spark on March 11, 2023, from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm. We invite new and returning middle school-aged students to apply. The deadline to register is Friday, March 3. The $50.00 registration fee includes all materials and supplies. Limited spots are available. Click on the link below to register.

STARBASE ROBINS Career Guide Volunteer Opportunity

Big picture
STARBASE 1.0 is a 5-day Department of Defense (DoD) STEM education program for 5th grade students in the Middle Georgia area. Students are bused from their local elementary school to the Museum of Aviation to complete 25 hours of stimulating hands-on experiential learning. We need volunteers to come and speak to a class from 11:30 am - 12:00 pm (30 minutes) about their careers. Consider today, how you can play a role by inspiring young minds. You are invited to sign up to speak on different days throughout the school year. Click on the career guide link below to sign up today.

STARBASE 2.0 Recruiting Students and Volunteers

Big picture
STARBASE 2.0 is a school-based afterschool club open to 6th-8th grade students in participating schools in Bibb, Houston, Peach, and Twiggs. We are recruiting new students and volunteers for the spring semester which kicks off on Monday, February 6, and will run through Thursday, April 20th. If you have a student enrolled in one of our participating schools, your child is eligible to join our 2.0 club. This semester, students will get the opportunity to build, code, and fly drones. To register contact the STARBASE 2.0 Teacher Sponsor at the participating school. If you are interested in learning more information about our 2.0 clubs or would like to volunteer email Andrew Dennis Jr., at or call 478-926-4119.

VIP AF Sustainment Center Spouses Visit STARBASE ROBINS

Big picture

Pictured from left to right - Dr. Mary London, Natalie Hawkins, Donna Schultz, and Wesley Fondal Jr.

STARBASE ROBINS welcomes Dr. Mary Landon, "Spouse of Brigadier General Elizabeth Arledge, Air Force Sustainment Center, Mobilization Assistant to the Commander," Mrs. Natalie Hawkins, "Spouse of Lieutenant General Stacey Hawkins, Air Force Sustainment Center, Commander," and Donna Schultz, "Spouse of Chief Master Sergeant Robert Schultz, Air Force Sustainment Center, Command Chief." The purpose of the tour is to build the capacity of our VIP guests in understanding ongoing resiliency initiatives, wellness, quality of life, and educational programs that show how Robins Air Force Base takes care of airmen and their families. During their visit, Dr. Landon, Mrs. Hawkins, and Mrs. Schultz toured the facility and received an overview of our program from the STARBASE ROBINS Executive Director. They also had the opportunity to meet with 5th grade students, teachers, and staff.
Big picture

Partnerships in Education Matter Series

Big picture

STARBASE ROBINS will highlight our work to strengthen our existing partnerships and form new partnerships to create meaningful learning experiences and opportunities for all students. This work will be featured in the Partnerships in Education Matter series section of our newsletter.

As a Community Partner, we had the opportunity to participate in important conversations that will help to shape the future of Bibb County Schools over the next five years. Our voice at the table will help to strengthen our existing partnership with Bibb County Schools to ensure we are bridging the gap to create meaningful learning opportunities for all students in preparing them for future success.

The Strategic Design Team is comprised of parents, students, teachers, principals, assistant principals, district leadership, and community partners. This collaborative work will result in a comprehensive five-year plan that outlines Bibb County School's strategic goals, mission, and vision.

DoD Teacher Professional Development Learning Opportunity

Big picture
Do you desire to learn tips and strategies to make STEM part of your everyday classroom? If so, the Griffiss Institute will host a teacher development STEM educator workshop on May 20, 2023, at the Museum of Aviation in the National STEM Academy's Space and Innovation Center Building. The activities and materials will be put together and provided in a take home class set for educators to integrate into their classrooms. The attendees will receive a $200 stipend for attending. The event is free to attend and will last from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm. Space is limited and will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you are interested in attending the event, please click on the link below to register.

Celebrating: Unsung Heroes Who Made an Impact in STEM

STARBASE ROBINS celebrates Black History Month. In this newsletter, we will pay tribute to African Americans who have made an impact in STEM by breaking through racial and gender barriers to create a pathway for students to pursue careers in STEM. As a Department of Defense (DoD) STEM education program, we serve students that are historically underrepresented in STEM. This includes students who live in inner cities or rural communities, are socio-economically disadvantaged, and students who are performing below grade level, or have a disability. Our purpose for sharing these stories is to inspire young minds by celebrating those "Unsung Heroes" that have helped to shape American History. The resources shared include links to videos, lesson plans, and other resources.
Big picture

Percy Lavon Julian (1899 - 1975)

Percy Julian is referred to as the "forgotten genius". He would defy all odds to become the first in his family to go to college. After many setbacks, he would earn his Ph.D. Degree in Chemistry and become one of the most important chemists of the 20th Century. Click on the link below to learn more information.

Bessie Coleman (1892 - 1926)

Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman of Native American descent to hold a pilot's license. Bessie faced racial and gender discrimination in pursuing her dream to become a pilot. Click on the link below to learn more information.

Barrington Irving

Barrington Irving made history in 2007 when he became the first African American and youngest pilot to fly around the world solo. Click on the link below to learn more information.

Katherine Johnson (1918 - 2020)

As a young child, Katherine loved math. She became the first African American female engineer to work for NASA. Her work as an engineer and mathematician would pave the way to send an astronaut into orbit around the earth and the moon. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to NASA. Katherine Johnson's story was published in the book Hidden Figures in 2016. Later that same year, the movie Hidden Figures was released in movie theaters. Click on the link below to learn more information.

Connect With Us On Social Media

Big picture