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1st black man to space walk visits IU


By Lindsay Eckert

The first black man to walk in space will visit participants at an IU summer science camp Thursday.

Bernard Harris will attend a luncheon in the Indiana Memorial Union’s Frangipani Room at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, and student events will take place from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Harris was the first black to walk in space during his 1995 flight to retrieve Spartan 204, a space shuttle used to observe galactic dust clouds. Harris was selected by NASA in 1990 and became an astronaut in 1991. Before his historic walk in space, Harris flew aboard two space flights logging 239 hours in space.

The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, which runs July 12 to 24, is a program for underrepresented middle school students and promotes student engagement in science and math.

The free camp is funded by The Harris Foundation, which Harris founded in 1998 with a mission to support math and science education for students kindergarten through 12th grade in a community setting.

Participants attend daily classes in subjects ranging from natural science to engineering. IU will be host to the participants in Foster Quad and provide meals to campers free of charge.

Harris earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from University of Houston in 1978 and a doctorate in medicine from Texas Tech University School of Medicine in 1982. He also earned a master’s degree in biomedical science from the University of Texas, according to an IU press release.

Harris grew up in a troubled home with an alcoholic father and said he believes the camp’s opportunities will help kids succeed despite their home conditions.

“The young people who come to our camps are really bright,” Harris said in a press release. “When they start, they don’t know much about careers in science, but it’s amazing what you can accomplish with a bunch of intelligent kids in two weeks.”

Edwin Marshall, IU vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs, said camps like these are necessary to provide educational opportunities to broaden the horizon for students.

“We must commit to educating our youth in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines in early grades to engage and retain student interest in these disciplines through college and career exploration and development,” Marshall said.
Paul Edwards, program director for Harris Summer Science Camp, said the camp will open students’ minds to new possibilities in education and careers.

“The camp will offer exposure to help students look into careers they may have not thought were possible,” Edwards said. “It gives students an understanding that these opportunities are in their reach.”

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