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LU among select group to hold ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp

Lamar University’s 10th annual ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp (EMBHSSC) will be held on campus from June 19-July 1. The camp, hosted by the College of Education and Human Development, is a free, two-week residential program for underserved sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students gifted in math and science. A total of 36 students are expected to attend this summer.

Lamar University was selected by the Harris Foundation-ExxonMobil Foundation partnership as one of only 10 universities nationwide to receive funding for the camp.

The goal of EMBHSSC is to develop students’ proficiency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Campers will complete a minimum of 56 hours of advanced STEM study taught by highly qualified educators, collaborative partners and university faculty.

“In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels far beyond what was considered acceptable in the past,” said Otilia Urbina, assistant professor of professional pedagogy and camp executive director.

The program’s founder, astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris Jr., will join campers via Skype on June 29 at 6:00 p.m. for an interactive session in which students will be given an opportunity to participate in a question and answer session.  Harris was the first African American to walk in space. He spent ten years at NASA conducting research, was a Mission Specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia STS-55/Spacelab D-2 in 1993 and served as Payload Commander on Space Shuttle Discovery STS-63 in 1995, the initial flight of the joint Russian-American Space Program.

Campers will participate in various real-world, hands-on, and inquiry and project based tasks through field excursion activities at Shangri La Botanical Gardens in Orange, Texas A&M AgriLIFE Research Center in China, and a trek to the Big Thicket National Preserve in Kountze relating to this year’s theme— “Biodiversity: The Spice of Life,” chosen because Southeast Texas is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. In addition, campers are involved in intensive team research projects focusing on environmental issues and solutions.

LU’s EMBHSSC has several collaborative educational community partners, which include Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Orange, Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center in China, the Big Thicket National Preserve in Kountze, Baptist Hospital, the ExxonMobil Beaumont Refinery and other public and private sectors.

“The key to our success is our collaborative partners' participation. Our campers leave with wonder for nature and how biodiverse our planet is as well as what their responsibilities are as stewards of our environment,” said Urbina.

For more information on the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, contact Otilia Urbina at