Students Prepare for Mars Landing at ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp


ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – Fifty-four Alaskan middle-school students will have an out-of-this-world experience during the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) in conjunction with Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP). As part of the program’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum, students will participate in the Mars Lander Challenge, a space-themed competition inspired by camp founder and veteran astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris Jr.  

Students will learn about Harris’ journey to become the first African American to walk in space and the extreme elements he encountered during his two shuttle missions.

Using household materials, teams of students will be challenged to create landing spacecrafts capable of absorbing shock from a planetary landing. ANSEP faculty and ExxonMobil engineers will work alongside campers, offering guidance as they construct their designs.

“From building spacecrafts to designing robots and bridges, students see first-hand science, technology, engineering and math come alive through real-world applications,” said Dr. Bernard Harris Jr., president, The Harris Foundation.

The all-expenses-paid camp focuses on teamwork and hands-on activities such as creating rockets, roller coasters and model homes using specially designed software. Additionally, area teachers will show campers math and science at work in their community through field excursions to local ecosystems, nature parks and area museums.

“Technology is essential to nearly every industry, and students need to be well-versed in science and math in order to be prepared to succeed in the high-tech nature of the 21st century,” said Suzanne McCarron, president, ExxonMobil Foundation. “ExxonMobil is committed to preparing the future workforce through programs like the Bernard Harris science camps that help today’s youth develop an interest and solid foundation in STEM.”

This summer marks the ninth consecutive year the ExxonMobil Foundation and The Harris Foundation have partnered to offer science camps that help close the achievement gap. This is the fifth year ANSEP has been selected to participate in the program.

“We are excited to be part of the Exxon Mobile Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp for the fifth year,” said Mike Bourdukofsky Chief Operating Officer of ANSEP and camp director of the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. “ANSEP prides itself in providing inspiration, guidance, and opportunity for students from 95 communities in STEM early in their educational careers. We would like to thank ExxonMobil and The Harris Foundation for sharing their quest to empower students with STEM.”

For more information, visit: www.theharrisfoundation.org.


About The Harris Foundation

Founded in 1998, The Harris Foundation is a 501 (c) (3), non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas, whose overall mission is to invest in community-based initiatives to support education, health and wealth. The foundation supports programs that empower individuals, in particular minorities and economically and/or socially disadvantaged, to recognize their potential and pursue their dreams.

The Education Mission of The Harris Foundation is to enable youth to develop and achieve their full potential through the support of social, recreational, and educational programs. The Harris Foundation believes that students can be prepared now for the careers of the future through a structured education program and the use of positive role models. More than 15,000 students annually participate and benefit from THF programs www.theharrisfoundation.org.

About the ExxonMobil Foundation

The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) in the United States. The foundation and the corporation ExxonMobil engage in a range of philanthropic activities that advance education, with a focus on math and science in the U.S., promote women as catalysts for development, and combat malaria. In 2013, together with its employees and retirees, Exxon Mobil Corporation its divisions and affiliates, and the ExxonMobil Foundation provided $269 million in contributions worldwide, of which $110 million was dedicated to education www.exxonmobil.com.