Media Advisory: Math, Science Are the Focus of Free Summer Camp at U.Va.

July 6, 2010 --

WHAT: Local middle school students are abandoning their typical summer activities to dive into a two-week, fun- filled math and science camp. This adventure, the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, is transforming their summer vacations by giving students the opportunity to get ahead in math and science, meet inspiring role models and experience college life.

As a part of the program, campers will participate in the exciting experiment, "Escape from Harris Island." They will build rafts from limited supplies and face off in an intense competition to test their newly acquired engineering skills. They will also participate in highly interactive demonstrations, learn about engineering and other science careers with ExxonMobil engineers and scientists, and hear an inspiring message from camp founder Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African-American to walk in space, and others.

•    Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African-American to walk in space
•    Kathy Thornton, former astronaut and U.Va. engineering School dean of graduate students
•    State Del. David Toscano
•    Margaret Parnell, vice president, planning and technology, ExxonMobil
•    50-plus middle school students from Virginia

July 9, 2010, 10 a.m.-noon*
     *Best visuals and interview availability

University of Virginia
Chemistry Building – auditorium and lobby
McCormick Road
Charlottesville, Va. 29904
Parking is available in the E3 lot, between the Engineering School and Scott Stadium

Campers building rafts out of ordinary materials and sailing them across water in a competition. 

WHY:  Studies show that the United States is facing a critical shortage of engineers, scientists and other technically trained workers. To help address this crisis, former astronaut Bernard Harris and ExxonMobil are providing 30 free two-week summer camps on college campuses across the country that offer innovative math and science programs to encourage middle school students to stay in school, develop their knowledge and foster their interest in engineering.