Friday, June 25, 2010

ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp Opens at PVAMU

CSI Prairie View is focus for ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp

The PVAMU Career Services Department welcomed some 60 students in the 2010 ExxonMobil-Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp on June 6 with a special program at Prairie View A&M University.

The students and parents were treated with the presence of former astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris, president of the Harris Foundation and founder of the Summer Science Camp. Dr. Harris shared his experiences from his early childhood to becoming a medical doctor and an astronaut. “You can be whatever you want to be,” Dr. Harris told the students.

The residential camp, in its 4th year at PVAMU for students in the 5-7th grade, provides the students a first-hand experience with experiments, role models and innovative classroom instructions to encourage their continued study of math and science courses. They also participate in activities to enhance their leadership and citizenship skills and their abilities to work in teams and think creatively in a college environment. The camp’s goal is to raise the students’ awareness of career possibilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics Dr. Harris believes that working with elementary and middle school students to bridge the academic experience with the real world and expand students’ horizons beyond the classroom is very important for the future.

The students participated in the Annual Raft Rally where they learn the properties of density and mass distribution by constructing rafts with foil paper and drinking straws. The raft’s design and strength were tested with students sailing the raft in water and placing pennies in until it sank. The Rafters won with 159 pennies, short of the 2009 record 265.

One of the campers’ field experience focus is on forensic sciences, or the CSI Prairie View. Ms. Stephanie Holmes and Mr. Aaron Griffin instructed the campers on how to assess a crime scene and solve a mystery murder. Students then got a chance to take what they learned to the Criminal Justice Program at Sam Houston State University. The campers now have the ability to solve the mystery robbery – Who stole the Cookies? Fiber and DNA testing and personal interviews were part of the training led by Jessica Berry, a Syracuse University Medical Student and instructor for the program.

Taking up the challenge of Dr. Harris, that they were fortunate to be part of a select group of students in the world with access to an education, the program engaged the students in the 1Goal Project. The mission of the project is to raise awareness and support for education and increase the number of children in schools by 2015.

By joining the 1GOAL team, the students performed the Waka Waka Official Dance "This Time for Africa" for the World Cup and signed a petition, which will be sent to the 1GOAL FOUNDATION to strengthen the campaign’s voice and give the program the best possible chance of success.

While most summer camps come at a cost, participation in the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp is free. Kids, who are academically qualified, recommended by their teachers and have a genuine interest in math and science attends the educational camps at no cost.

The camps are hosted on 35 campuses throughout the United States. This year’s campers at PVAMU include kids from Waller, Katy, Royal and Hempstead ISD’s, and Austin, Brazos, Montgomery and Washington Counties.

Defining himself as a “dreamer who believes nothing is impossible” Bernard A. Harris, Jr., M.D. is an accomplished NASA astronaut, physician and businessman. He currently serves as president of The Harris Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization he founded in 1998 to develop math/science education and crime prevention programs for America’s youth.

Dr. Kelvin Kirby, professor engineering and Mr. Herbert R. Thomas, Career Counselor at the university are the program coordinators.

The Camp concluded on June 18 with an Awards Program where students received the official medals from the Bernard Harris Foundation and certificates of achievement from the university.


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