ANSEP sends rural students out of this world
August 11th | Carey Restino
Dozens of rural Alaska students from around the state will had an out-of-this-world experience this month as they got a chance to talk with American astronauts and design a spacecraft capable of landing on Mars.
The extraordinary experience is all part of the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp hosted by the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Known for helping inspire science and math-related studies for its participants, ANSEP has been putting on the two-week, all-expenses-paid camp for 12 years now. One of the camp's founders is veteran astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris.
"Providing hands-on, interactive experiences exposes students to the excitement and innovation surrounding the real-world application of science, technology, engineering and math at an early age," said Harris, president of The Harris Foundation?"By helping youth build spacecrafts and design robots, we are building the next generation of STEM professionals.?
Students had a chance to video chat with Harris, learn about his experiences as the first African Americans to walk in space, as well as the extraterrestrial challenges he overcame during his two shuttle missions.
Harris studied medicine at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center before conducting research on muscular physiology and what happens with disuse. He then trained as a flight surgeon before joining NASA's Johnson Space Center, conducting studies into space adaptation and developing countermeasures for extended duration space flight.
Forty-eight students from across the state participated, including Kaktovik's Danny Gordon, Iliamna's Keisha Askoak and Michelle Gust, Point Hope's Mallorie Barger, Tatyana Nashookpuk and Kasey Oviak, Koliganek's Tristan Goodell, Justin Nash and Paaraq Nelson, Noatak's Isaac Smith III, Sand Point's Dick Cumberlidge and Andrew Jackson and Shungak's Summer Tickett.
"Each summer, ANSEP looks forward to the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, which provides new and innovative activities for Alaska's students and gets them excited about STEM learning," said Dr. Herb Ilisaurri Schroeder, ANSEP founder and vice provost. "ANSEP strives to provide continued academic support to students who will in turn positively impact their communities and our state. We are incredibly thankful to the ExxonMobil Foundation and the Harris Foundation for supporting these efforts."