Carl Albert Middle School, Midwest City
Chad Unruh, an Electronics Engineer at Tinker Air Force Base, has been named the outstanding mentor of the year for the Department of Defense STARBASE 2.0 after-school club at Carl Albert Middle School in Midwest City.
STARBASE 2.0 combines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities with a relationship-rich school-based environment serving at-risk youth in sixth- through eighth-grades. The program uses a team mentoring approach, pairing teams of three to four students with one adult mentor for four hours each month to focus on STEM projects, team-building and goal setting.
Tinker Air Force Base’s STEM Education Outreach has supported this after-school program with engineering mentors since the program began in 2011.
Chad has used his background in engineering and robotics to improve the program. He has used his free time to collaborate with another STARBASE 2.0 mentor to create a game-like setting in which students could work.
“For the program, he designed missions and challenges creating authentic learning experiences,” said Trevor Pratt, mentor assistant. “The program that Chad created makes the learning student centered, hands-on and exciting.”
Through the program, the students learn robotics, teamwork and problem solving skills. The club has seen increased student engagement and a decrease in student absences.
“His positive attitude towards students’ capabilities, his encouragement to be unafraid of failure, and his desire to make the club fun has made Carl Albert Middle School’s STARBASE 2.0 a model program that is enjoyable for mentors and mentees alike,” said Pratt.