Summer science camp develops the minds of young Einsteins

Math and science can be fun!

If a young Albert Einstein could have picked a summer activity he may have opted to participate in the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at Washington University in St. Louis, June 16-27. An exciting two-week adventure filled with field trips and science experiments, the summer camp proves that math and science can entice a crew of middle school students and lead them to rewarding opportunities.

On Friday, June 20, campers and counselors will gear up for a special guest. Astronaut and camp founder Bernard Harris, M.D., will visit from 9:30 a.m.-noon, in room 300 of the Lab Sciences Building on the Danforth Campus. Harris will share his story, meet the campers and lead a science investigation for them along with engineers from ExxonMobil.

According to a Congressional task force study, the United States will have a shortage of more than 500,000 engineers, scientists and other technically trained workers by the year 2010. The study states that it is essential to start educating youth in math and science in early grades in order to engage and retain students’ interest in these disciplines through college and into careers.

This is the third year that former NASA astronaut Bernard Harris and ExxonMobil are partnering to provide academic enrichment camps on university campuses. The camps, which are free of charge, are offered to middle school students who are academically qualified, recommended by their teachers and genuinely interested in math and science. The program was expanded this year to meet increased demand and will reach 1,200 students at 25 campuses across the country, an increase from 900 students at 20 camps in the previous year.

“Our country is facing a critical deficiency in students pursuing engineering and science related careers, which are the foundation of innovation in the 21st century economy. This, in time, could reduce today’s technological advantages enjoyed by the United States,” said Gerald McElvy, president of ExxonMobil Foundation. “At ExxonMobil, we are committed to helping increase students’ interest in these careers by giving them exposure to hands-on math and science activities and introducing them to role models who have achieved great success in their careers.”

“Students in middle school today have had significant technology in their hands since birth,” said Harris, veteran of two space shuttle missions and the first African American to conduct a space walk. “The goal of the camps is to give them a first-hand look at just how fun it can be to understand the wonders of how math and science play a role in the electronics they enjoy every day. The expansion of the camps was a direct result of high demand from students who wanted to attend last year’s camps.”

“Washington University is honored for the opportunity to host its second ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp,” said camp director Christine Mohr. “Our campers show incredible enthusiasm and interest, sparked by interactive experiments and field trips led by our highly qualified and motivated teachers.”

Washington University in St. Louis was selected as a camp host because of its long-standing commitment to math and science education and its efforts to support and promote local community youth in these disciplines. For more information about the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camps, please visit

About ExxonMobil Foundation

ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon Mobil Corporation in the United States. The Foundation and the Corporation engage in a range of philanthropic activities that advance education, health and science in the communities where ExxonMobil has significant operations. In the United States, ExxonMobil supports initiatives to improve math and science education at the K-12 and higher education levels. Globally, ExxonMobil provides funding to improve basic education and combat malaria and other infectious diseases in developing countries. In 2007, together with its employees and retirees, Exxon Mobil Corporation, its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation provided $207 million in contributions worldwide, of which $70 million was dedicated to education. Additional information on ExxonMobil’s community partnerships and contributions programs is available at:

About Harris Foundation

Founded in 1998, The Harris Foundation (THF) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas, whose overall mission is to invest in community-based initiatives to support education, health and wealth. THF supports programs that empower individuals, in particular minorities and economically and/or socially disadvantaged, to recognize their potential and pursue their dreams. The Education Mission of the Harris Foundation is to enable youth to develop and achieve their full potential through the support of social, recreational, and educational programs for grades K-12. Through two primary initiatives — the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp and Dare to Dream — the Foundation encourages math and science education, motivates youth to stay in school, fosters youth leadership and citizenship, as well as instills the values of responsibility, fairness and respect. To date, more than 2,500 K-12 students have participated and benefited from THF programs. For more information, visit:

About Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University is a medium-sized, independent university dedicated to challenging its faculty and students alike to seek new knowledge and greater understanding of an ever-changing, multicultural world. The university is counted among the world’s leaders in teaching and research, and draws students and faculty to St. Louis from all 50 states and more than 125 nations. The University is highly regarded for its commitment to excellence in learning. Its programs, administration, facilities, resources and activities combine to further its mission of teaching, research, and service to society.