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Local Students Explore Mars with Math and Science at Bowie State University

July 22, 2014

Camp Founded by Former Astronaut Bernard Harris Jr. Encourages Young Scientists to Pursue High-Tech Careers


Damita Chambers, Bowie State University, 301-832-2628
Merritt Talbott, Sunwest Communications, 214-373-1601


About 50 area middle-school students are using the summer break to sharpen their math and science skills during the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at Bowie State University. The two-week, all-expenses-paid program, founded by astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris Jr., is one of 20 camps being held on university campuses nationwide. The experience immerses campers in hands-on, team-based learning activities designed to reveal the science behind the latest technology and explore how math impacts daily life.

On Wednesday, July 23, Bowie State will showcase its innovative camp curriculum with a unique space-themed competition — the Mars Lander Challenge. Using household materials, teams of students will design model spacecrafts capable of protecting an astronaut during a planetary landing.


Ricky Zhao, senior engineer, ExxonMobil
About 50 local middle-school youth


Wednesday, July 23, 2014
8:45 – 11 a.m.
*Best visuals: 9:30-10:30 a.m.


Bowie State University
Student Center, Wiseman Ballroom
14000 Jericho Park Road
Bowie, MD 20715
Parking — Complimentary parking available in lots J or J1


Local students creating and testing spacecrafts alongside university faculty and ExxonMobil engineers. During the testing exercise, campers will drop their spacecraft from designated height intervals that mimic the impact and shock of a planetary landing. Teams whose spacecraft land with their astronauts intact will move onto the next round, dropping their spacecraft from higher elevations until a winner is declared.


ExxonMobil Foundation and Harris have partnered for nine consecutive years to bring math and science camps to more than 8,700 underserved students.

The need for capable STEM workers has persisted over the past decade with STEM jobs growing at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs, offering ample opportunities for high-paying, fulfilling careers (2011 U.S. Department of Commerce Report). Yet there continues to be a shortage of trained workers able to fill these positions — 600,000 technical jobs remain open in the manufacturing sector alone (2013 STEMConnector Report).

Programs such as the summer science camps aim to engage students in STEM and encourage them to consider math and science careers, which are projected to continue growing for years to come.


Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The University places special emphasis on the science, technology, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit the website at