ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp Encourages Future Innovators

University of Oklahoma Outreach spurs math and science interest among middle-school students through the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. Founded by veteran astronaut Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr., the program enhances proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and math. This two-week, all-expenses-paid experience is one of 20 camps for underserved youth nationwide. ExxonMobil Foundation provides funding and expertise of talented engineers.

Bernard HarrisStudents will explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) during the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at the University of Oklahoma, which runs June 2-14. The program, which is being led by Precollegiate Programs at OU Outreach, emphasizes critical thinking, collaboration, and innovation through hands-on learning experiences.

As part of the STEM-based curriculum, students will participate in a space day competition, where they will be challenged to create and design durable spacesuit swatches using household items, which mimic protective materials. Teams will test the strength of their samples using an impact tester that imitates the rigors experienced during spacewalks.

Before the contest, campers will hear from camp founder and astronaut Harris, as he shares his inspirational journey to become the first African American to walk in space and the extreme elements he encountered during his two shuttle missions. Harris and an ExxonMobil engineer will work alongside campers, offering guidance as students use math, engineering and science skills to construct their designs.

“The Harris Foundation inspires kids to pursue STEM careers by providing them with hands-on science and engineering activities that help them sharpen their problem-solving skills and envision themselves in these careers,” said Dr. Bernard Harris Jr., president, The Harris Foundation.

The all-expenses-paid camp focuses on teamwork and hands-on activities such as building and designing rockets, bridges, roller coasters, and spacesuits. Campers also have opportunities to see science and math at work in the community through field excursions to local ecosystems and trips to area museums.

“ExxonMobil is committed to encouraging student interest in science and math,” Suzanne McCarron, president, ExxonMobil Foundation, said. “These camps are one way to equip our nation’s youth with skills needed to be competitive in an increasingly global economy.”

This summer marks the eighth consecutive year the ExxonMobil Foundation and The Harris Foundation have partnered to offer science camps that help close the achievement gap. This is the seventh year the University of Oklahoma has been selected to participate in the program.

“It’s so inspiring to see the excitement the students take back to their communities,” said Holly Mills, director of the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at OU. “I love hearing about their thirst for learning and STEM education when they come back to campus for reunion activities. I know we are changing lives through the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp.”

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