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Astronaut Bernard Harris Teach Youth at NCCU Summer STEM Camp

Astronaut Bernard Harris

Durham, NC — Astronaut Bernard Harris Jr. along with college professors and other STEM professionals are working with nearly 48 Triangle area middle-school students as they sharpened their knowledge in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. This is taking place this week during the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

Bernard HarrisStudents took part in the “Mars Lander Challenge,” a competition inspired by Harris, the camp’s founder and a veteran astronaut in NASA’s space program.Bernard Harris

Using household materials, student teams created models of spacecraft capable of absorbing shock from a planetary landing. They worked alongside Harris, NCCU faculty members and ExxonMobil engineers, who offered guidance to students as they constructed their designs.

“There is no better way to foster a love of STEM than through hands-on experiences,” said Harris, a medical doctor and researcher who flew on two shuttle missions for NASA and conducted a spacewalk in 1995.  “My goal with our camps is to foster the next generation of innovative thinkers, particularly those who may not have had significant exposure to STEM and interactive experiences like those we provide.”

Bernard HarrisThe students participated in the interactive, inquiry-based classes through scholarship support from the ExxonMobil Foundation and AT&T Inc. Campers also explored local museums and nature centers to discover STEM within their communities.

This summer marks the 12th consecutive year that the ExxonMobil Foundation and The Harris Foundation have partnered to promote STEM learning. This is the third year NCCU has been selected as a program site. NCCU is the only historically black college and university (HBCU) among the 10 sites picked for the program nationwide.

For more information, visit

Photos courtesy of NCCU.

Bernard Harris
ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at NCCU campers, instructors, counselors and Dr. Bernard Harris (front row, 3rd from right)

North Carolina Central University prepares students to succeed in the global marketplace. Selected as 2016 HBCU of the Year by HBCU Digest, NCCU offers flagship programs in the sciences, technology, nursing, education, law, business and the arts. Founded in 1910 as a liberal arts college for African-Americans, NCCU remains committed to diversity in higher education. Our alumni excel in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. Visit


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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative.

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