Summer/Fall 2009 -- Volume 1 Issue 2 [ Return to Table of Contents ]
Dr. Bernard Harris sharing a light moment with a student camper during his visit to Bloomington. Photo credit: Heather Brogden, IU Bloomington.
NASA Pioneer Visits Summer Science Camp
First African American to Walk in Space Inspires Students to Reach for the Stars
Forty years ago on a hot July day, a 13-year-old boy sat spellbound in front of the television watching something no one had ever seen before: men walking on the moon. He ran to his mother in excitement and told her that he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to be an astronaut.
That young man, who was already interested in science and math, grew up and achieved his childhood dream. Dr. Bernard Harris shared this story with students at the 2009 ExxonMobil Summer Science Camp at Indiana University that bears his name. Dr. Harris is a medical doctor, a flight surgeon, and an astronaut who in 1995 became the first African American to walk in space. A veteran astronaut for over 19 years, he has logged in more than 438 hours and traveled over 7.2 million miles in space. Now that he is earthbound, his mission is to help others reach for the stars.
Nearly 90 students from the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades listened as Dr. Harris recalled that historic moon landing in July of 1969. "When I saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon, that was it! I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be like them." His mother encouraged him to do and be anything he wanted.
What I liked the most was when we went to the chemistry center. I liked it because all the experiments looked fun and I learned a lot, like all dry ice is carbon dioxide. Two experiments the chemist did was put dry ice in water and made a cloud. He also put chemicals inside balloons and then put fire on them. When the balloons popped, there were different colors of fire.
I learned we should conserve water and not waste it because we don't know how long we'll have it. We should be thankful because other places don't have clean water like we do. Because of water I can take showers, brush my teeth, and drink.
6th-grader at Grandview Elementary in Bloomington
To all involved in the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp:
THANK YOU!!! Thank you so much for giving our daughter, Jourdan Jenkins, the opportunity to participate in such an outstanding program. She had a great time–making new friends, learning a new environment, and exploring science. I don't know where this path will lead her, but we are so thankful for the seeds planted in her life through this experience. I am thankful to all of her camp counselors, teachers, and leaders who kept her safe and made so many wonderful deposits in her life.
Academic Advisor/Chemistry Tutor
Groups Student Support Services Program
Indiana University Bloomington
An area breakdown of students who attended the
Summer Science Camp:
- 24 from northwest Indiana
- 38 from the greater Indianapolis area
- 7 from the Evansville area
- 12 from Monroe County
- 3 from Lawrence County
- 2 from the Fort Wayne area
- 3 from the Kokomo/Lafayette area
The path to achieving his dream required determination and hard work. Dr. Harris chose to become a physician because "biology plus helping people equals medicine." His hard work and determination bore fruit. The first time he applied for the astronaut program, he was not accepted. Yet he did not let that discourage him and was accepted the following year. "When you identify obstacles, you can get past them."
Now he helps others overcome the obstacles in fulfilling their dreams. The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at Indiana University is a free camp that helps facilitate learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students were selected in a competitive process from school districts throughout Indiana, including Gary, Indianapolis, and Evansville.
This year's camp theme was sustainability with a special focus on water as a vital resource. Camp activities included hands-on learning, classes, and field trips. Students lived in dorms on the Bloomington campus and got a taste of the college experience.
Dr. Harris founded the camp in 1994. The Harris Foundation began in 1998 to support math and science education and crime prevention programs, and it now partners with ExxonMobil to provide 30 free two-week summer camps across the country. Dr. Harris visited IU as part of the camp's media day event. Students also heard from Cory Gandert, a mechanical engineer at ExxonMobil's refinery in Joliet, Illinois.
After listening to Dr. Harris and Mr. Gandert, students participated in a raft rally, constructing rafts of aluminum foil that were judged by the number of pennies they could hold. The IU campers broke the previous record with more than 500 pennies. The winners were presented with IU pennants. Students gathered around Dr. Harris for photographs as the media day came to a close. They had clearly enjoyed an exciting day of fun and inspiration.
"We want you to accomplish your dreams," said Dr. Harris, "whatever they may be."
IU Camp Directors (left to right): Camp Program Director Dr. Paul Edwards, Executive Camp Director and DEMA Associate Vice President Vicki Roberts, Dr. Bernard Harris, Executive Camp Director and DEMA Vice President Edwin C. Marshall.
Campers learn the Hoosier Riverwatch method of testing river water and mapping July 14 at the area along the Jordan River on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington.
Campers test for the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. From left to right: D'Andre Embry, 12; Jalen Hall, 12; Jose Santiago, 13; and Jason Dukes, 11.
Jose, Jason, and D'Andre survey the water. The river was found to be in good health, according to the tests.
Above 3 photos by Chris Howell, The Herald-Times|
- American astronaut Bernard Harris founded the Summer Science Camp in 1994. In 2006, ExxonMobil joined in sponsoring the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas, and Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma.
- In 2009, camps were offered at 30 universities and colleges across the United States.
- The camps encourage mathematics and science education, motivate youth to stay in school, foster leadership and citizenship, and instill the values of responsibility, fairness, and respect.
- The camp experience is student-centered, team-oriented, and collaborative--with practical, real-world experiences and connections and building self-confidence, decision-making, and critical thinking skills.
- The camps are held in June, July, and August.
- Students attend the camp at no cost and live in dorms on campus. Each camp is held over a two-week period.
- The camps are facilitated by faculty at each university. University faculty and secondary teachers teach the classes. In addition, college and university students are utilized as senior camp counselors.
- Camps consist of classroom study, experiments, individual/team/group projects, weekly field excursions, and guest speakers who motivate the students into fulfilling their dreams.
- Camp goals are to:
- Enhance proficiency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics;
- Increase ability to successfully complete university and college programs in these disciplines in the future;
- Enrich mathematics and science teachers/educators expertise in their field and enhance their teaching skills.
- Student participants are selected based on the following criteria:
- Members of a traditionally underserved and underrepresented population;
- Entering 6th, 7th, or 8th grade in the fall;
- GPA of at least "B" overall and in mathematics and science;
- Score at the median to superior level in standardized mathematics and science tests;
- Are interested in mathematics and science; and
- Are recommended by their current mathematics and science teachers.
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