Posted July 15, 2009

Hope floats

Local middle school students participate in Raft Rally as part of CST’s 14-day ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp

  • Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/Temple University

Former Astronaut Bernard Harris (left) watches as Benjamin She, Caroline McNally and Liliana Farinas load pennies onto a raft made of aluminum foil and plastic drinking straws to test Archimedes’ principle of buoyancy. She, McNally and Farinas are among 50 Delaware Valley middle school students who participated in yesterday’s “raft rally” as part of the 14-day ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, hosted by the College of Science and Technology at Temple Ambler.

Working in teams of four, each group of students was given only two 20 square-centimeter pieces of aluminum foil and four plastic drinking straws to design and build their raft, which were then placed in water and loaded with pennies until water entered. She was a member of Team “No Names,” whose raft set a new record by holding 469 pennies.

Harris, the first African American to walk in space, created the Bernard Harris Foundation in 1998 and has partnered with ExxonMobil to sponsor the summer science camps for the past four years. Designed to enhance middle school students’ knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the camps are being held at 30 college and university campuses throughout the United States. Activities included classroom study, experiments, individual and group projects, weekly field excursions and motivational guest speakers.