SWOSU to Host Prestigious Science Adventure for Middle School Students


Fifty area middle school students from across the state of Oklahoma are curing the summer “brain drain” this year with a heavy dose of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fun at the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp hosted by Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford.

The camp is one of 25 across the United States and one of only two in Oklahoma. The SWOSU camp is planned June 19-July 1, and camp director Wayne Trail said participants are from both rural and metro areas of the state with 32 of the campers coming from the Oklahoma City metro area.

The hands-on program offers students an exciting way to beat the heat as they design space suits, build rockets and more while experiencing life on a college campus.

“Summer learning opportunities are crucial to continued academic success,” said Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr., veteran astronaut and camp founder. “In partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation, we are able to offer students a tremendous opportunity to hone the math, science, communications and leadership skills needed to realize their full potential.  Our goal is to inspire them to reach beyond the classroom and pursue careers in critical technology fields.”

For the sixth consecutive year, the ExxonMobil Foundation has partnered with Harris and his nonprofit organization, The Harris Foundation, to provide residential camps to underrepresented and underserved middle school students at 25 universities across the country. This is the 8th year SWOSU has had the honor of participating in the program.

“ExxonMobil is committed to inspiring the next generation of creative thinkers and innovators who will be critical to our nation’s economic success,” said Suzanne McCarron, president of ExxonMobil Foundation. “By partnering with Dr. Harris, we are able to provide talented young students with hands-on experiences that could lead them to a career in math, science, engineering or technology.”

The demand for workers with strong math and science skills is significant as eight out of 10 of the fastest growing occupations in the nation are in STEM fields, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The camp program aims to fill this critical need by offering a curriculum that features hands-on experiments, team competitions and field excursions to help students build essential skills. Campers receive quality instruction from local educators and hear from ExxonMobil engineers about the exciting and rewarding aspects of their profession.

“We have seen this experience positively impact youth in our area and look forward to witnessing our students’ dramatic growth as they gain valuable knowledge and a passion for math and science this summer,” Trail said. “At SWOSU, we understand the important role STEM programs such as these play in preparing students for the high-tech careers of tomorrow.”

For more information, please visit the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp website, www.theharrisfoundation.org.