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ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp makes learning fun

By Christi Fish
Public Affairs Specialist

(July 16, 2009)--This week, UTSA is one of 30 education institutions hosting the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. This is the second summer that UTSA hosted the camp, which is open to 50 sixth through eighth graders from the San Antonio area. The 2009 camp, which began July 12, offers a forensic science theme and will run through July 24 on the university's Main Campus.

Bernard Harris, a physician and Texas native, is best known for serving on the first flight of the joint Russian-American Space Program in 1995. On that flight, he became the first African-American to walk in space. A veteran astronaut for more than 19 years, Harris has logged more than 438 hours and traveled more than 7.2 million miles in space.

The free residential camp gives students a first-hand experience with experiments, role models and innovative programs to encourage their continued participation in math and science courses in school. Additionally, their leadership potential and citizenship skills are fostered along with their abilities to work in teams and think creatively, while spending two weeks in a college campus environment. The ultimate goal is to raise their awareness of career possibilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Students will attend daily classes in natural science, engineering, mathematics and technology, which will be taught by faculty from UTSA and area school districts. Activities include classroom study, experiments, individual/team/group projects, weekly field excursions and guest speakers who will encourage the students to fulfill their dreams. UTSA's 2009 camp classes will include lie detection, brain dissection, hypothetical crimes, eyewitness accounts, facial composites, handwriting, forgery, finger, lip and foot printing, glass fragmentation and handwriting analysis, among other seminars.

"UTSA is excited to be part of this wonderful camp experience for our local students," said Rachel Ruiz, UTSA assistant vice president for P-20 initiatives. "We're not only providing these students with an amazing two weeks on our campus, including dormitory life, we are also doing our part to develop the next generation of creative thinkers and inventors."

Unlike most summer camps, there is no fee required to attend the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. Young people who are academically qualified, recommended by their teachers and genuinely interested in math and science can be rewarded with the opportunity to attend these educational camps at no cost.

Repeated studies have shown that the United States faces a critical shortage of engineers, scientists and other mathematics- and science-literate workers because a significant number of practicing engineers are nearing retirement and an insufficient number of students are pursuing related degrees in order to fill the predicted vacancies. Through numerous efforts, ExxonMobil is supporting programs and organizations that focus on improving mathematics and science education at all levels.

For a list of U.S. institutions offering the summer camp, visit the Harris Foundation Web site.

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ExxonMobil Foundation

The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon Mobil Corp. in the United States. The foundation and the corporation engage in a range of philanthropic activities that advance education, health and science in the communities where ExxonMobil has significant operations. In the United States, ExxonMobil supports initiatives to improve math and science education at the K-12 and higher education levels.

Globally, ExxonMobil provides funding to improve basic education and combat malaria and other infectious diseases in developing countries. In 2008, together with its employees and retirees, Exxon Mobil Corporation, its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation provided $225 million in contributions worldwide, of which more than $89 million was dedicated to education. Read more about ExxonMobil community partnerships and contributions programs.

The Harris Foundation

Founded in 1998, The Harris Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Houston, Texas. Its 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 the economically and 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 for grades K-12. Through three primary initiatives -- The DREAM Tour, the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp and Dare to Dream -- the foundation encourages math and science education, motivates youth to stay in school, fosters youth leadership and citizenship and instills the values of responsibility, fairness and respect.

The 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. To date, more than 10,000 K-12 students have participated in and benefited from THF programs.

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