Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is hosting the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp (EMBHSSC) through July 31, providing a no-cost, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experience to 48 underrepresented students. Participants include Massachusetts middle school students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and those who will represent the first generation of their families to go to college. This is the sixth time that WPI has been selected to host this two-week overnight program, which is the largest of its kind in the United States.
To help prepare today's students for excellence in college and beyond, veteran astronaut Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr., president of the Harris Foundation, and ExxonMobil are partnering for the 10th consecutive year to host 20 Summer Science Camps across the country. The goal of the program is to ensure that students from all backgrounds, particularly from underserved and underrepresented communities, gain a deep understanding and appreciation of STEM subjects, and to promote careers in STEM fields.
"This program is a beautiful fit for WPI," said President Laurie Leshin. "We're delighted to work with Dr. Harris and ExxonMobil again this year to bring these phenomenal students to our campus and give them an opportunity to learn about STEM and see themselves in these fields."
The theme for this year's camp is "Mission to Mars." Students will test and develop their engineering and science prowess during daily activities that emphasize the development of STEM skills. Leshin, former director of science and exploration at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, will talk with students at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22.
"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," Harris said. A doctor and medical researcher, he became the first African American to walk in space during a 1995 flight on the space shuttle Discovery. Harris gave the keynote address at WPI's 2015 Commencement ceremonies.
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 also get to explore local museums, nature centers, and ecosystems, allowing them to discover science at work in their communities.
Also this year, the camp has partnered with the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at WPI, the public, co-educational school of excellence that enrolls about 100 academically accelerated 11th and 12th graders. Maria Borowski, master teacher at the Mass Academy and this year's EMBHSSC executive director, said, "Hosting the Harris Foundation's camp allows us to provide STEM-focused outreach and address the Harris Foundation’s mission of working with underserved students in Massachusetts. This camp also provides another critical step in the pipeline of STEM education from elementary school to undergraduate education at WPI."
EMBHSSC at WPI Media Day, Thursday, July 23, in Alden Memorial, WPI Campus
Welcome and Staff Introductions
Maria Borowski, Executive Camp Director; Master Teacher, Mass Academy
Lauren Monroe, Camp Program Director; Director, Worcester Think Tank
Kristin Tichenor, WPI Senior Vice President
Allison DiNitto, ExxonMobil Project Engineer
Introductions to Mars Lander Challenger Activity
Mars Lander Challenger Project Activity Begins
Using household materials, teams of students will design and test a model spacecraft capable of protecting an astronaut during a planetary landing. 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 onto the next round, dropping their spacecraft from higher elevations until a winner is declared.
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.
About Mass Academy of Math and Science
Mass Academy is a public, co-educational school of excellence that enrolls about 100 academically accelerated 11th and 12th graders. We emphasize math and science 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 delivering more than 1200 hours of instruction. Seniors complete a full year of college, enrolling in classes at WPI, a nationally ranked engineering school, 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 state school districts.