Students Create Spacecraft During 15th Annual Summer Science Camp

Former Astronaut Preps Middle Schoolers for STEM Success through Program at UH

ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at University of Houston
Affiliated with UH’s teachHOUSTON math and science teacher preparation program, the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp provides opportunities for hands-on experimentation, networking with STEM professionals, field trips and exposure to college life.
Houston-area middle school students will be unveiling their model spacecraft at the University of Houston (UH) Tuesday, June 24, during the 15th annual ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp.

As part of the program’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum, students will participate in the “Mars Lander Challenge,” a space-themed competition inspired by UH alum and veteran astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris Jr. Using household materials, teams of students will design model spacecraft capable of protecting an astronaut during a planetary landing.

Harris, UH faculty and ExxonMobil engineers will work alongside campers, offering guidance as they construct their designs. During the testing exercise, campers will drop their spacecraft from designated height intervals that mimic the impact and shock of a planetary landing. Teams whose spacecraft land with their astronauts intact will move on to the next round, dropping their spacecraft from increasingly higher elevations until a winner is declared.

Founded by Harris, the two-week, all-expenses-paid program is one of 20 camps being held on university campuses nationwide. The experience immerses campers in hands-on, team-based learning activities designed to reveal the science behind the latest technology, increase environmental awareness and explore how math impacts daily life.

Affiliated with UH’s teachHOUSTON math and science teacher preparation program, the camp gives students an opportunity to live on campus and participate in interactive, inquiry-based classes taught by university faculty, secondary teachers and other professionals. Campers also have the opportunity to explore local museums, nature centers and ecosystems, discovering science at work in their communities. From building models of bridges to designing robots and creating spacesuits, students see firsthand how STEM can come alive through real-world applications.

In its 15th year at UH, the camp has transformed the summer vacations of local middle school students by giving them the opportunity to get ahead in STEM disciplines, meet role models and experience college life. Offered to academically qualified students entering sixth, seventh and eighth grades, the camp was started at UH in 1999 by Harris, and the ExxonMobil Foundation has been a partner for nine of those years.

Houston-area middle school students building model spacecraft
Bernard Harris, the first African-American to walk in space

ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at UH

9 to 11 a.m., Tuesday, June 24
Best visuals: 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.

University of Houston
Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall (PGH), Room 232
Off Cullen Boulevard, Entrance 14

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