Free science camp for middle schoolers from traditionally underrepresented populations

Washington University in St. Louis will host its third ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp June 14-26 to middle school students from traditionally underrepresented populations.

Students work on an experiment at the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at Washington University in St. Louis. The two-week camp aims to motivate students to excel in math and science.

The Danforth Campus will welcome 48 middle schoolers from St. Louis-Metro East districts of St. Louis Public, Ferguson-Florissant, Hazelwood, Jennings, Ladue, Maplewood-Richmond Heights, Normandy, Rockwood, University City, East St. Louis, Cahokia, Grant, and Whiteside.

The camp’s theme is “Energy Quest: Investigating Sources and Solutions.” As a component of the camp, a special “ExxonMobil Media Day” will be held 9:30-11:30 a.m. June 17 at the Mallinckrodt Center, lower level. Campers will work side by side with scientists to complete an engineering challenge.

This is the fourth year that former NASA astronaut Bernard Harris, the first African-American to walk in space, and ExxonMobil have partnered to provide these camps on university campuses.

Washington University’s Science Outreach program, which provides math and science resources to K-12 students and educators, received an $80,000 grant from the ExxonMobil Foundation and The Harris Foundation to support the camp.

The camps are offered to middle school students from traditionally underrepresented populations who are academically qualified, recommended by their teachers and genuinely interested in math and science.

This year’s program is expanded to include 30 campuses across the country with the goal to reach 1,500 students.

The residential camp gives students a first-hand experience with experiments, role models and innovative programs to encourage their continued participation in math and science courses in school.

Additionally, their leadership potential and citizenship skills are fostered along with their abilities to work in teams and think creatively, while spending two weeks on a college campus. The ultimate goal is to raise students’ awareness of career possibilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Washington University is excited to be part of this wonderful camp experience for our local students,” said Mary C. Mohr, camp director and Science Outreach program coordinator. “We’re not only providing these students with an amazing two weeks on our campus, we are also doing our part to develop the next generation of creative thinkers and inventors.”

Unlike most summer camps, there is no fee required to attend the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. Young people who are academically qualified, recommended by their teachers and genuinely interested in math and science were selected to attend these camps at no cost.

Students will attend daily classes in natural science, engineering, mathematics and technology, which will be taught by graduate students from Washington University and faculty from area school districts. Activities include classroom study, experiments, individual/team/group projects, weekly field excursions and guest speakers who motivate the students into fulfilling their dreams.

Studies have shown that the United States faces a critical shortage of engineers, scientists and other mathematics- and science-literate workers as a significant number of practicing engineers near retirement and not enough students are pursuing related degrees.

Through numerous efforts, ExxonMobil is supporting programs and organizations that focus on improving mathematics and science education at all levels.

About Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis is a leader in teaching and research worldwide, and is highly regarded for its commitment to excellence. The university draws students and faculty from all 50 states and more than 125 nations. Each year, more than 13,000 students enroll in more than 90 programs leading to bachelor’s, master’s, professional and doctoral degrees.

Its Science Outreach program enhances learning for K-12 students and educators through graduate courses, school partnerships and enrichment programs like the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp.

About ExxonMobil Foundation

ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon Mobil Corp. 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 2008, together with its employees and retirees, Exxon Mobil Corp., its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation provided $225 million in contributions worldwide, of which more than $89 million was dedicated to education.

About The Harris Foundation

Founded in 1998, The Harris Foundation 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. The foundation 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 three primary initiatives — The DREAM Tour, the ExxonMobil 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.

The Harris Foundation believes that students can be prepared now for the careers of the future through a structured education program and the use of positive role models. To date, more than 10,000 K-12 students have participated and benefited from the foundation’s programs.