Some 48 area middle school students are using the summer break to sharpen their math and science skills during the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). The two-week, all-expenses-paid program, founded by astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris Jr., is one of 20 such 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 and to demonstrate how math impacts daily life.
WPI will showcase its innovative camp curriculum with a unique space-themed competition: the Mars Lander Challenge. Using household materials, teams of students will design model spacecraft capable of protecting an astronaut during a planetary landing.
Allison DiNitto, WPI alumna and project engineer at ExxonMobil, speaking to 48 local middle school youth.
July 24, from 9 to 11:45 a.m. The opportunity for best visuals is between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., with local students creating and testing spacecraft alongside university administrators and faculty, and an ExxonMobil engineer. 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.
Alden Memorial on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, Mass. Parking is available in visitor spaces in the Park Avenue Parking Garage or the West Street parking lot.
The ExxonMobil Foundation and Bernard Harris have partnered for nine consecutive years to bring math and science camps to more than 8,700 underserved students.
The need for capable STEM workers has persisted over the past decade with STEM jobs growing at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs, offering ample opportunities for high-paying, fulfilling careers (2011 U.S. Department of Commerce report). Yet there continues to be a shortage of trained workers able to fill these positions—600,000 technical jobs remain open in the manufacturing sector alone (2013 STEMConnector Report).
Programs such as the summer science camps aim to engage students in STEM and encourage them to consider math and science careers, which are projected to continue growing for years to come.