The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp doesn’t have horseback riding. There isn’t a swimming pool or a campfire. What you’ll find, though, are dozens of math and science lovers aged 11–14. Over the course of two weeks and at no cost to them, campers get to blast plastic rockets, replicate a Mars landing and participate in a slew of other activities designed to improve their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) knowledge.
The camps, which take place at 10 colleges across the U.S., are the brainchild of pioneering U.S. astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris, who wanted to engage young middle-schoolers—especially students who are underrepresented—in STEM fields. At a time when American students are lagging behind in STEM, the program could also convince some campers to become engineers, doctors or who knows—maybe even astronauts.
We recently spent a day with these Bernard Harris campers, who told us about what life is like at this one-of-a-kind science-and-math summer camp.