CORVALLIS, Ore. – Youngsters love rockets and they’ll be launching them at the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science camp under way on the Oregon State University campus this week and next.

Model rocketry is just one of a broad range of hands-on science learning activities that 60 middle-school-age children from throughout the state will enjoy during the special grant-supported camp.

The ExxonMobil Foundation and The Harris Foundation awarded OSU an $80,000 grant for the camp. The OSU Extension Service 4-H Youth Development program, OSU Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences (SMILE) program, the Science and Math Education Department and the OSU College of Engineering are co-sponsoring the camp. It is one of 20 such camps offered throughout the United States and targeted to middle-school students from underrepresented populations in science, math and technology career fields.

The full cost of the camp’s education program, field trips, food and lodging is covered by a scholarship for students selected to participate.

“This event is intended to give young people from underserved populations a special summer camp and science learning experience that hopefully will inspire them to pursue further studies in science and math,” said Virginia Bourdeau, OSU Extension 4-H Youth Development specialist and executive camp director.

The camp will enjoy a visit by Bernard Harris, former U.S. astronaut and head of The Harris Foundation, on Wednesday, Aug. 8, when he travels to OSU to participate with campers in a special science project.

The theme of the OSU summer science camp is “watersheds.” Campers will attend daily science and math classes, computer labs, engineering explorations and perform a variety of science inquiry experiments. During the second week of camp, participants will conduct an environmental research project in OSU’s MacDonald-Dunn Research Forest north of Corvallis.

“At the conclusion of the camp Aug. 17, 12 research teams of campers will report on their research projects and each student will deliver a poster presentation at the LaSells Stewart Center,” Bourdeau said.

Summer science camps have become popular with kids throughout the country in recent years. These camps, in part, are a response to national statistics indicating the need to boost the academic performance by U.S. students in science and math subject areas, Bourdeau noted.

According to Bourdeau, about 500 Oregon sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders applied to attend the camp.

“There clearly is great interest in this kind of summer camp among our young people,” Bourdeau said. “Hopefully we will be able to continue our partnership with the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp project and offer similar camps at OSU in coming years.”

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Virginia Bourdeau,