Family Connects Emmaus with Starbase IndianaIn 2011, Heather Dye was a single mom, homeschooling two children and struggling to make ends meet. She wondered how she was going to put food on the table. Heather needed some solutions and knew that sending her son, Lucas, to school would free her up to help her daughter, who was confined to a wheelchair due to a neuromuscular disorder. But how would she continue to foster Lucas’ love for learning in a Christian environment?Heather knew something had to change. She says, “While I enjoyed teaching my children,saw their obviousgrowth and success,I knew that with my daughter's growing health demands I needed extra help beyond our homeschool co-op.”
That’s when the Dye family found Emmaus Lutheran School.“This new journey was a bit scary for our family, but everyone at Emmaus made it a joy. We were pleasantly surprised by Lucas's ease into school and happy to maintain schooling with a Christ-centered focus.”Emmaus was able to help the Dye family financially by providing a scholarship for her son, who was placed a grade ahead of his age. Because Lucas is a science nut, Heather nurtured her son’s love for learning through a science program called Starbase Indiana, a free STEM camp that is open to all area students.“As we struggled with new obstacles, Starbase was a delightfully welcomed, free schooling extensionoption in our lives,” she adds. After finding out about the program, Heather introduced Starbase Indiana to Emmaus Lutheran School.Starbase 1.0 is a five-day camp for fifth graders, while Starbase 2.0 is for sixth through eighth graders. The goal is to motivate students to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as they continue their education. The program engages students through an inquiry-based curriculum. Starbase has both a school-year program and a summer camp.
Through Starbase 2.0, Emmaus middle schoolers were able to launch a weather balloon that went up almost 100,000 feet. They were the first school in the area to do it.Middle school science teacher, Jessica LaBrash, said the weather balloon allowed students to see the effects of altitude on objects they sent with the balloon, like eggs and water. With cameras, sensors and GPS, they were able to track the balloon’s location and answer questions like how pressure and temperature affect various objects. The weather balloon launch was a huge success, with students sharing their excitement on Twitter. “These pictures are blowing my mind,” one student shared. Another tweeted, “Can’t believe our balloon went 98,000 feet in the air. Absolutely incredible.”Through Emmaus’s partnership with Starbase Indiana, kids like Lucas are able to develop a love for STEM learning even more, both inside and outside the classroom.Since Lucas started at Emmaus, things in the Dye Family have changed for the better. Heather finished her bachelor’s degree, started working at Starbase Indiana and got married last year. She now acts as the strategic planning manager for Starbase and helps coordinate their summer camps. The program continues to grow with several Lutheran schools participating in the Starbase 1.0 and 2.0 program.Heather admits they couldn’t be more pleased with Emmaus Lutheran School’s investment in her son.
“Lucas is without a doubt a shining example of how investing in kids like him who want educational growth in Lutheran schools, but may not quite be able to financially obtain [it], is paying big dividends,” she adds. “We are delighted to be looking to a future in which we can return the grace and favor the Lutheran Schools have shown to us, and help other families who may find themselves in similar situations.”