Students Build Spacecraft at Science Camp June 16 at UH

Former Astronaut Preps Middle Schoolers for STEM Success

Campers Experiment in Lab
Students perform science experiments at the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at UH.
Bernard Harris Guides Campers
Bernard Harris looks on as students construct model spacecraft.
Houston-area middle school students will be building model spacecraft at the University of Houston Tuesday, June 16, during the 16th 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 a designated height that mimics the impact and shock of a planetary landing. Teams will be scored on research and design choices, sketches, budgeting, time of decent, landing accuracy and mission survival.

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 STEM professionals. In addition, college and university students serve as senior camp counselors. Campers also explore local museums and nature centers, discovering STEM within 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 16th 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 this is 10th year the ExxonMobil Foundation has been a partner.

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 16
Best visuals: 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.

University of Houston
Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall (PGH), Room 232
Off Cullen Boulevard, Entrance 14. Media encouraged to parallel park curbside along Entrance 14 in loading zones, clear of driving lanes and bus stops. Please ensure vehicles display media credentials in dashboard, visible through windshield.


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