Escape from Harris Island: Young Minds Hone Math and Science Skills at Camp
Hands-on activities quench local students’ thirst for knowledge this summer.
Written by Leslie Cranford
Former astronaut and regent Harris advises campers in the construction and engineering of rafts.
While many middle school-aged students are spending their summer days at the pool, those participating in the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at Texas Tech are escaping the heat by diving into a two-week adventure in math and science.
Through July 30, campers will delve into relevant topics such as sustainability, energy, clean water and robotics as they learn about exciting career opportunities available to them through science, technology, engineering and math.
Former astronaut Bernard Harris and ExxonMobil have partnered since 2006 to provide the two-week residential camp free of charge to underserved middle school students at 30 college campuses across the country, including Texas Tech.
“ExxonMobil is committed to engaging the next generation of creative minds, thinkers and developers who will keep the United States competitive,” said Suzanne McCarron, president of ExxonMobil Foundation. “By partnering with Dr. Harris, we are able to reach talented students and provide them with an experience that could lead them to pursue a career in math, science, engineering or technology.”
Campers will enjoy activities including classroom study, experiments, individual and team projects, weekly field excursions and inspirational guest speakers. On the first day of the camp, they participated in “Escape from Harris Island,” where they built rafts from limited supplies and faced off to test their newly acquired engineering skills. They are taught by university faculty, attend daily classes in natural science, engineering, mathematics and technology. As part of their educational experience, the campers also work side by side with engineers and other professionals who are accomplished in their chosen technology-related careers.
“Texas Tech is honored to host the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp,” said Beccy Hambright, camp director and program manager for Texas Tech’s T-STEM Center.
“Not only are we providing these students with two fun-filled weeks on our campus and offering many students the unique opportunity to experience a college campus for the first time, we are investing in our community by encouraging the next generation of innovative problem solvers.”
Texas - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) is a major component of a Texas initiative to motivate and prepare more students for careers in STEM fields.
The mission of the Texas Tech T-STEM Center is to support educators in STEM disciplines by offering services and resources that support school districts and to teachers.
The center, created in 2006, has nearly $2.2 million in funding.