Summer Science Camp Develops the Minds of Young Einsteins

July 11, 2007-- If Einstein could have picked a summer camp, he would have opted for the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. An exciting two-week adventure filled with field excursions and science experiments, the summer camp proves that math and science can entertain a crew of youngsters and help them brush up on their studies over the summer months.

As a component of the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp that the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is hosting, camp participants are gearing up for a special “ExxonMobil Day,” to be held Thursday at the Engineering School.
Students will spend time with ExxonMobil engineers, U.Va. engineers, professors and scientists as they conduct hands-on experiments, participate in highly interactive demonstrations and receive an insider’s look at engineering and other science careers.

According to a Congressional task force study, the United States will have a shortage of more than 500,000 engineers, scientists and other technically trained workers by 2010. The study states that it is essential for the United States to start educating youth in the math and science fields at an early enough age to engage and retain their interest in these disciplines through college and future careers.

In an ongoing effort to address this issue, former NASA astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris and ExxonMobil have partnered for the second year to provide academically enriching summer camps to middle school youth.   

“With a critical shortage in the nation’s technically trained workforce, ExxonMobil’s commitment to math and science is not limited to investing in these programs with funding, but also through our engineers and scientists serving as role models and making personal connections with these students,” said Gerald McElvy, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation. “We hope that these camps will foster the students’ fundamental interests while educating them about promising career opportunities associated with these disciplines, so that we may encourage and inspire future generations to be proficient in math and science.”

This year, the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camps expanded from two to 20 camps at colleges and universities across the nation. The camps are offered free of charge to local middle school students who are academically qualified, recommended by their teachers and genuinely interested in math and science.

“The expansion of the camps was a direct result of high demand from students who wanted to attend last year’s camps,” said Harris, veteran of two space shuttle missions and the first African American to conduct a space walk. “There is a whole segment of the younger generation who are seeking opportunities to expand their minds through scientific study. The key is to nurture that interest and thirst for knowledge through innovative and exciting activities therefore cementing in the students a commitment to these disciplines.”

“The University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is honored for the opportunity to host this year’s ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp,” said Carolyn Vallas, camp director and director of the school’s Center for Diversity in Engineering. “Already we have seen incredible enthusiasm and interest from our campers, sparked by the connection between the exciting interactive experiments and field excursions and the core curriculum taught by our highly qualified and motivated teachers.”

U.Va.’s Engineering School was selected as a camp host because of its long-standing commitment to math and science education and its efforts to support and promote local community youth in these disciplines.

About the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science

Founded in 1836, the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science combines research and educational opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Within the undergraduate programs, courses in engineering, ethics, mathematics, the sciences and the humanities are available to build a strong foundation for careers in engineering and other professions. Its abundant research opportunities complement the curriculum and educate young men and women to become thoughtful leaders in technology and society. At the graduate level, the Engineering School collaborates with the University’s highly ranked medical and business schools on interdisciplinary research projects and entrepreneurial initiatives. With a distinguished faculty and a student body of 2,200 undergraduates and 700 graduate students, the Engineering School offers an array of engineering disciplines, including cutting-edge research programs in computer and information science and engineering, bioengineering and nanotechnology. For more information, visit

About Harris Foundation

Founded in 1998, The Harris Foundation ( is a non-profit organization based in Houston whose 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 economically and/or 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 two primary initiatives — the 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, as well as instills the values of responsibility, fairness and respect. To date, more than 2,500 K-12 students have participated and benefited from the foundation’s programs.

 About ExxonMobil Foundation

ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon Mobil Corporation 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 2006, Exxon Mobil Corporation, its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation provided $139 million in contributions worldwide, with $54 million dedicated to education. Additional information on ExxonMobil’s community partnerships and contributions programs is available at