Lamar University’s College of Education and Human Development is hosting their 11 year ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp June 12 to June 23.

The camp houses 30-plus students that are transitioning to grades 6-8 in fall 2017.  The middle school students that attend the camp are recommended by their teachers who believe they are excelling in science and mathematics.

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Tena Urbina, executive director of the camp at LU and research assistant professor in the college of education and human development, directs campers during video shoot of the event.

“These students are the brightest of the brightest,” Otilia Urbina, executive director of the camp at LU and research assistant professor in the college of education and human development, said. “When they leave us, we hope they will pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics(STEM).”

Each year, Urbina and her staff apply for the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp grant. The grant pays over a $1,000 per student so that students may attend the camp free of charge.

There are only 10 universities in the nation chosen each year who meet the requirements of the grant. The requirements include a well-managed dorm, dining hall, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics buildings, camp counselors, and faculty and staff that will be involved.

“We are delighted to host the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at Lamar University again this year,” Urbina said in a previous news release. “The camp makes learning fun and is an opportunity of a lifetime for students who might otherwise not consider careers in the STEM fields. We are grateful to Dr. Harris and the ExxonMobil Foundation for making this camp possible.”

The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp was established in 2006 by the ExxonMobil Corporation and Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African-American to walk in space. The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp as served over 12,583 students at colleges across the country.

Although, the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp sponsors the LU camp, other organizations have collaborated with the summer camp.

“The program collaborates with Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, The Big Thicket National Preserve, and Texas A&M AgrilLife Research Center,” Kayleigh Romero, Technology Coordinator volunteer, said. “We visit the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center and the Big Thicket National Preserve, after the campers participate in precursor activities on LU’s campus.”

The experiences, in which the students participate is exposure to college life, building robots and hands on problem solving in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses.

“The students engage in robotics, animation classes that lead into biodiversity research, entrepreneurship classes and art classes,” Romero said.

Urbina said the students are encouraged to succeed and continue on to the Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities (TALH) program provided by Lamar University. The intention is for the students to attend the ExxonMobil summer camp, continue to do well in school and come back the following summers until they hit the age requirement for TALH. TALH will help them to further succeed and possibly get a $20,000 scholarship to attend LU.

Romero said they keep track of their students as they continue to excel in school and return to LU summer camps. Caleb Buxie, who attended the program in 2007, graduated with an engineering degree from LU and has returned as a camp counselor in order to give back to the program, because his experiences at the camp helped form his decision to become an engineer.

Romero said her favorite part of the camp(s) is the students “ah ha” moments, realizing they can do and achieve what scientists have achieved.

For more information, contact Rebecca Broussard at (409)880-7786 or visit www.theharrisfoundation.org

Story by Karisa Norfleet, UP contributor 

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

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