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UW Among 20 Universities Nationwide Selected to Host ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp

February 27, 2014
Kids with cardboard telescopes
Enterprising campers test their home-built telescopes during last year’s “AstroCamp: Journey to the Stars.” The University of Wyoming was chosen, for the fifth consecutive year, to host one of 20 ExxonMobil Harris Summer Science Camps. This year’s camp is scheduled June 15-24 on campus.

For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Wyoming has been chosen to host one of 20 ExxonMobil Harris Summer Science Camps. UW’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, in cooperation with the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, will organize and run the event, scheduled June 15-24 on campus.

The hands-on camp, called “AstroCamp: Journey to the Stars,” will allow students to observe the universe with professional telescopes; study astronomical images on computers; construct scientific spectrographs to identify chemical elements; build and launch model rockets; conduct soil tests; create solar ovens; and test their very own Mars landers to see whether, in this case, they can land an egg softly enough without breaking it.

Professional astronomers; UW graduate students majoring in astronomy or education; and high school and junior high school teachers will lead the activities.

“The camp provides a 10-day immersion in science and engineering on a college campus with other talented middle-school youth at no cost to the family,” says Chip Kobulnicky, a UW associate professor of physics and astronomy.

Students entering the sixth, seventh and eighth grades -- from Wyoming, western Nebraska, northern Colorado and western South Dakota -- for fall 2014 are encouraged to apply for the UW camp. The free academic camp supports historically underserved and underrepresented students with limited opportunities.

Campers are chosen based on demonstrated interest and academic potential in math, science, astronomy and space. Students need to have at least a “B” average in science and mathematics, and a passing score on the state’s standardized science and mathematics tests. As part of the application process, students have to submit a written essay (250 words or less) on why they want to attend the science camp.

Up to 48 slots are open for eligible students, who can apply at The UW application deadline is April 21 and the notification deadline is May 10. For more information, contact Michele Turner at (307) 766-2862.

Campers will attend classes that include problem solving, earth sciences, and engineering and design concepts. Field excursions include an overnight camping trip under the stars near UW’s Wyoming Infrared Observatory, located on Jelm Mountain. Students will investigate the scientific, technological and biological factors that will be required to travel to distant planets and stars.

Founded in 1998 by Bernard Harris Jr., the Harris Foundation is a Houston, Texas-based nonprofit organization that invests in community-based initiatives to support education, health and wealth. The foundation supports programs that empower individuals to recognize and pursue their dreams. Harris is best known as the first African-American astronaut to walk in space and as a NASA researcher.

“From building models to bridges to designing robots and creating spacesuits, students see firsthand engineering, science, technology and math come alive through real-world applications,” says Harris, in an ExxonMobil Foundation news release.

“Our goal, and that of former astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris, is to train tomorrow's leaders as we help inspire them to pursue their dreams in STEM fields,” Kobulnicky says. “The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camps seek to strengthen national capabilities in critical STEM (science, technology, math and engineering) areas to solve national and world problems for the next generation. “

For more information about AstroCamp, email Kobulnicky at or Daniel Dale, a professor and chair of UW’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, at

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