A mission to Mars will launch at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) this summer as a select group of 48 Massachusetts middle school students participates in the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp (EMBHSSC), the largest of its kind in the United States, combining the study of the "Red Planet" with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities.
Underrepresented students, including those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, first generation to college, and from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, will be selected for "Mission to Mars," July 19-31, to be held for a sixth season at WPI, the only university in New England to host the camp this year. Students entering grades 6-8 from Essex, Hampden, Hampshire, Suffolk and Worcester counties may apply for the camp. Student applications are currently available and due May 1.
To help prepare students for excellence in college and beyond, veteran astronaut Bernard A. Harris Jr., M.D., and the ExxonMobil Foundation are partnering for the 10th consecutive year to bring 20, all-expenses-paid, STEM camps to underrepresented students across the country.
The goal of the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp is to promote careers in STEM fields, and to ensure that students from all backgrounds, particularly from underserved and underrepresented communities, garner a deep understanding and appreciation for STEM subjects. This year at WPI the camp is partnering with the Mass Academy of Math and Science, a public, co-educational school of excellence that enrolls about 100 academically accelerated 11th and 12th graders and is located on the WPI campus.
The campers will have a shared experience with WPI President Laurie A. Leshin, who has her own connection to Mars. She remains a member of NASA's Mars Curiosity Team, still on call for monitoring the rover. President Leshin will attend and speak at the camp’s Media Day on July 23.
"We are proud to welcome the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp back to WPI. This important summer program allows us to work hand-in-hand, providing STEM programs to students who might not otherwise have access to them," said Leshin. "Watching campers engage in hands-on science, math, technology, engineering and math activities while learning about Mars illustrates how project-based learning is both intellectually stimulating and fun."
The students selected to attend the overnight camp will test and develop their engineering and science prowess during daily activities, emphasizing the 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," said Harris, president, The Harris Foundation. Harris's historic spacewalk occurred in 1995 during his flight on the Space Shuttle Discovery.
The campers will participate in classes taught by university faculty, 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.
Eligible applicants must be entering sixth, seventh, or eighth grades in the fall of 2015. Additional information regarding application requirements and submission instructions for each camp are at www.theharrisfoundation.org. For more information and/or an application, visit the Mass Academy 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.
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.
About the Mass Academy
Mass Academy is a public, co-educational school of excellence that enrolls about 100 academically accelerated 11th and 12th graders. Math and science are emphasized within a comprehensive, interactive academic program. The rigor of the junior year classes exceeds high school honors and AP, emphasizing depth over breadth, engaging students in project-based learning, and more than 1,100 hours of instruction. Seniors complete a full year of college, enrolling in classes at WPI, a nationally ranked university, thus making the Academy the only public school in Massachusetts whose students attend a private university full time as seniors in high school. The Academy is a collaborative effort among the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and the high schools of Massachusetts.