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Astronaut big hit with campers
Bernard Harris visits with message
Astronaut Bernard Harris so engaged middle school students on ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp Media Day Friday, you could hear a pin drop – when they weren’t clapping and shouting approval of his message.
Dr. Bernard Harris, left, listens with Trine University President Earl D. Brooks II as Amee Patel of ExxonMobil introduces Dr. Harris to middle school campers.
Dr. Harris visited Trine University in the middle of its two-week session of his namesake summer camp to deliver an important message to the 48 middle school students selected by teachers and counselors for the residential camp: Science education can impact your life in a powerful way.
Harris, a former NASA astronaut and the first African American to walk in space, founded the camp with support from ExxonMobil to expose traditionally underserved middle school students to exciting careers in mathematics, science and technology in a fun, hands-on environment.
And boy, did they have fun. It was obvious Friday when they formed teams to create rafts in a Raft Rally competition to see whose construction would hold the most pennies. In the end, the four-person “Constructors” took the top prize in the contest, judged by Dr. Harris and ExxonMobil engineer Amee Patel of ExxonMobil’s Joliet Refinery in Joliet, Ill.
Students and their parents lingered after Dr. Harris’s presentation for photos with the astronaut. This marked the first year for Trine University to host the camp, and Dr. Earl Brooks announced the opportunity of annual $1,000 scholarships to any of the Bernard Harris Summer Camp students who choose to attend Trine University. The scholarships could total $192,000 for a four-year period, should all 48 kids opt to attend Trine.
Executive camp director Kelly Stout, Trine Middle College coordinator, said she felt honored to direct the camp for the enthusiastic students from northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio, and southern Michigan.