Former Astronaut Helps Students Explore Mars with Math and Science
Dr. Bernard Harris Jr. encourages young scientists to pursue high-tech careers
Fifty Hattiesburg-area middle-school students are using the summer break to sharpen their math and science skills during the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at The University of Southern Mississippi. The two-week, all-expenses-paid program, founded by astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris Jr., is one of 20 camps being held on university campuses nationwide. The experience immerses campers in hands-on, team-based learning activities designed to reveal the science behind the latest technology and explore how math impacts daily life.
On Wednesday, The University of Southern Mississippi will showcase its innovative camp curriculum with a unique space-themed competition — the Mars Lander Challenge — featuring Harris. Using household materials, teams of students will design model spacecrafts capable of protecting an astronaut during a planetary landing.
WHO: Dr. Bernard Harris Jr., the first African American to walk in space
Donovan Kilmartin, engineer, ExxonMobil
50 local middle-school youth
WHEN: Friday, June 26
1 – 3 p.m.
WHERE: The University of Southern Mississippi
Trent Lott Center, 1st Floor Quad Room
6197 US Hwy 49
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
Parking located behind the Center or in the gravel lot north of the facility.
Local students creating and testing spacecrafts alongside Harris, university faculty and ExxonMobil engineers. During the testing exercise, campers will drop their spacecraft from designated height intervals that mimic the impact and shock of a planetary landing. Teams whose spacecraft land with their astronauts intact will move onto the next round, dropping their spacecraft from higher elevations until a winner is declared.
ExxonMobil Foundation and Harris have partnered for nine consecutive years to bring math and science camps to more than 9,700 underserved students.
The need for capable STEM workers has persisted over the past decade with STEM jobs growing at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs, offering ample opportunities for high-paying, fulfilling careers (2011 U.S. Department of Commerce Report). Yet there continues to be a shortage of trained workers able to fill these postitions — 600,000 technical jobs remain open in the manufacturing sector alone (2013 STEMConnector Report).
Programs such as the summer science camps aim to engage students in STEM and encourage them to consider math and science careers, which are projected to continue growing for years to come.
CONTACT: Kristen Carter, Sunwest Communications 214.373.1601