UH Receives ExxonMobil Grant for Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp

UH Receives ExxonMobil Grant for Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp
$80K Awarded to teachHOUSTON Program to Fund Science Experiments, Field Trips and Networking

For the third year in a row, ExxonMobil has awarded an $80,000 grant to the University of Houston (UH) teachHOUSTON math and science teacher preparation program, as it once again takes the reins of the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp for Houston-area middle school students.

The funds will make it possible for the students to attend the two-week educational camp at no cost, where they will meet role models in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions, as well as experience college life. The grant also will make possible field trips to NASA’s Space Center Houston, the ExxonMobil Upstream Research Center and the campus’ own Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH. Additional camp activities include building robots, constructing durable materials for space suits and creating multimedia journals.

This year’s theme – “Houston: We have a Mission…POWER UP!” – addresses the current reliance upon fossil fuels and the need for alternative energy sources. Given the Houston region’s dominance in the energy industry, UH is an ideal location for launching and developing innovative solutions to energy challenges. Students will be given a problem where they will need to use solar, wind, thermal, nuclear or other forms of energy in coming up with a plan to construct an energy-efficient home suitable for a given environment. This theme integrates STEM fields and offers opportunities to interact with STEM professionals. Counseling sessions, career information, guest speakers, tours and recreational time also will serve as integral parts of the camp experience.

“University of Houston is honored to host the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp,” said camp director Paige Evans, who also is a clinical associate professor in the teachHOUSTON program. “Not only are we providing these students with two exciting weeks on our campus and offering them the unique opportunity to experience a college campus for the first time, we also are investing in our community by encouraging the next generation of innovative problem solvers.”

Camp founder Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr., the first African American to walk in space, created the program in 1994 to offer a dynamic summertime learning experience that explores how science impacts daily life. As a successful medical doctor, astronaut and entrepreneur, Harris’ inspirational story of overcoming humble beginnings through education is shared with campers to show the power education has to transform dreams into reality. In 2006, Harris partnered with ExxonMobil Foundation to expand the program, which to date has impacted nearly 6,000 students nationwide.

“The Harris Foundation is proud to offer kids a rewarding way to beat the summer brain drain,” Harris said. “We believe providing students with access to fun learning opportunities, inspirational role models and gifted teachers can help encourage them to pursue higher education.”

Area students are encouraged to apply for the program. To be eligible, students must be entering sixth, seventh or eighth grades in fall 2012; have received median-to-superior scores on standardized math and science tests; and submit two teacher recommendations. This year’s deadline to sign up for the camp at UH is Thursday, April 5.

Applications, specific program requirements and contact information for each camp are available online at http://www.theharrisfoundation.org/. For questions, please contact Evans at 713-743-3993 or The Harris Foundation at 713-877-1731.

- Lisa Merkl, University Communication