WPI to Host ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp - 2014

March 20, 2014

Underrepresented students, including those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, those who are first generation to college, and those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups from Massachusetts middle schools, will come to the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp (EMBHSSC) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)  this summer to experience hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. This is the fifth time in six years that WPI has been selected to host this overnight camp, the largest of its kind in the United States, which is free of charge to campers.

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To help prepare today's students for excellence in college and beyond, veteran astronaut Bernard A. Harris Jr. and ExxonMobil are partnering for the eighth consecutive year to bring 20 all-expenses-paid math and science camps to underrepresented students across the country. The camp will be held at WPI from July 20 to August 1, 2014. Applications are available now and are due by May 1.

The goals of the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp are to ensure that students from all backgrounds, particularly those from underserved and underrepresented communities, gain a deep understanding and appreciation of STEM subjects, and to promote careers in STEM fields.

"WPI takes great pride in partnering with the Harris Foundation and ExxonMobil in carrying out the mission to serve underserved students with aspirations in STEM disciplines," said Bonnie Hall, director of multicultural affairs at WPI. "Hosting the Harris Foundation's camp allows us to provide outreach in a very tangible, meaningful way that will impact students' future academic and career choices, but also build their self-esteem in a way that will positively impact the rest of their lives."

The theme for this year's camp is "Materials and Methods for a Sustainable World." The 48 students selected to attend the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at WPI will test and develop their engineering and science prowess during daily activities that emphasize development of STEM skills.

"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," Bernard Harris, president of the Harris Foundation, said. Harris conducted a historic spacewalk during a 1995 flight of the space shuttle Discovery.

Students stay overnight on campus during the two-week camp and participate in classes taught by university faculty members, secondary teachers, and local STEM professionals. As part of the interactive, inquiry-based curriculum, campers enjoy the added benefit of exploring local museums, nature centers, and ecosystems, allowing them to discover science at work in their communities.

According to a recent Harris Foundation study of camp alumni who are currently enrolled in college, 96 percent credit the program with influencing their decision to pursue higher education. Of those college students, 85 percent plan to pursue a STEM-related degree.

"Technology is essential to nearly every industry, and students need to be well-versed in science and math in order to succeed in the high-tech nature of the 21st century," said Suzanne McCarron, president, ExxonMobil Foundation. "Through programs like the Bernard Harris science camps, ExxonMobil is committed to preparing the future workforce by helping today’s youth develop an interest and solid foundation in STEM."

Eligible applicants must be entering sixth, seventh, or eighth grades in the fall of 2014. Additional information regarding application requirements and submission instructions for each camp are available at The Harris Foundation. More information about WPI's camp and an application can be found on the Office of Multicultural Affairs website.

About the ExxonMobil Foundation

The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon Mobil Corporation in the United States. Founded in 1955 as Esso Education Foundation, the Foundation’s name was changed to ExxonMobil Foundation in 2000 following the merger of Exxon Corporation and Mobil Corporation.

ExxonMobil supports programs that encourage students to take an active interest in careers in the math and science fields, support professional development of highly qualified teachers and promote involvement of women and minorities in these subjects. In 2010, it directed nearly $110 million to education worldwide, of which more than $42 million was dedicated to math and science education in the United States.

About the Harris Foundation

Founded in 1998, The Harris Foundation is a 501 (c) (3), non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas, whose mission is to invest in community-based initiatives to support education, health and wealth. The foundation supports programs that empower individuals, in particular minorities and economically and/or or socially disadvantaged, to recognize their potential and pursue their dreams.