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April 15, 2010

Exxon Mobil-sponsored science camp returns to NIU

DeKalb, Ill. — The College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at Northern Illinois University has been selected once again as one of 30 institutions nationwide that will host the Exxon Mobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp Program.

Bernard Harris works with students at the 2009 Exxon Mobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, which will return to NIU this year.

The announcement came on the 15th anniversary of Dr. Harris’ historic space walk on Feb. 9, 1995, while aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

“Much in my life has changed since that historic day, but one constant is my passion to make a difference with today’s students, especially kids who have similar backgrounds to mine,” Harris said. “This year’s summer science camps will give students a chance to learn about mathematics and science, more about themselves and about life on a college campus. Most importantly, campers learn that they have the power to achieve their dreams whatever they may be.”

The two-week residential camp, which will be held June 13-25 2010 on NIU’s main campus in DeKalb, is designed to provide traditionally under-served and under-represented middle school students across the country with a deeper understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and encourage them to pursue careers in those fields.

“Exxon Mobil shares Dr. Harris’s passion for math and science education. These camps help students explore beyond their horizons to encourage a life-long love of math and science and a better future,” said Rex W. Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation, which sponsors the program created by former NASA astronaut Bernard Harris, who was the first African-American to walk in space.

“We are honored to be part of this much-needed program. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the need for the United States to graduate more engineers,” said NIU-CEET Dean Promod Vohra. “To reach that goal we must work harder at recruiting women and minority students who presently give little thought to careers in the field. We are very grateful to Exxon Mobil Bernard Harris Foundation for helping us extend our efforts in that regard.”

“Life in Motion: Seen and Unseen,” will be the theme for the camp, said NIU Associate Dean, PI and Executive Camp Director Mansour Tahernezhadi. At the camp, middle school students (grades 6-8) will be exposed to an integrated curriculum in physical and life sciences, engineering, mathematics and technology, jointly taught by NIU faculty and secondary classroom teachers, who also receive professional development training as part of the camp. Selected undergraduate and graduate students from CEET are also encouraged to participate.

Students will participate in activities that bolster skills in problem solving, research and communication. In addition to classroom study, individual, team and group projects, the students will set off on field excursions to the Challenger Center in Woodstock, Ill., where they will experiment with building rockets, and to Six Flags in which they will explore design of various roller coasters, sustainability and other facets of environmental responsibility. Students are also expected to have an opportunity to meet Bernard Harris himself during the camp.

“By working together with the Engineering & Engineering Technology College we increase exposure to the many educational, hands-on learning opportunities available here at our Woodstock facility,” said Steve Otten, the director of the Challenger Center.

“This program nicely complements our existing outreach activities ranging from Saturday Engineering Workshops to summer camps for middle school and high school girls,” said Suma Rajashankar, the camp director. “Early engagement of middle students in hands on STEM-related projects is very critical in helping them identify with STEM fields and professions.”

More information is available online.

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Media Contact: Joe King, NIU Media Relations and Internal Communications
Phone: (815) 753-4299
Email: joking@niu.edu