STEM Camps Cultivate Interest in Science and Math

Three Summer Camps Engage Middle School Students

More than 300 Houston-area middle school students spent part of their summer fostering their curiosity and inventiveness at programs on the University of Houston campus.

Three summer camps focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM, helped students develop their problem solving and communication skills while simultaneously learning robust science topics. Sample activities included designing, building and testing a water filter to change dirty water to clean water, using technology skills to write, film and edit a movie, designing and testing rockets, and constructing solar ovens to bake s’mores.

stem-camp-1Students attending the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp explain to former astronaut Harris (B.S. ’78, Biology) how their model spacecraft will protect an astronaut during landing.Organized by teachHOUSTON, a partnership between the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the College of Education, the camps shared the goal of increasing students’ mathematics and science skills while introducing them to college life.

While the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp was in its 14th year at UH, two additional camps, The Cougar STEM Camp and the Bonnie J. Dunbar STEM Academy, make their debut in summer 2014.

Investing in Our Community

teachHOUSTON leadership offered additional camps this year because of the great need in the Houston area for STEM programs for middle school youth.

stem-camp-2Teams work on launching projectiles with different forces and angles during the Bonnie J. Dunbar STEM Academy.“Not only are we providing young students with an opportunity to experience a college campus for the first time, we are also investing in our community by encouraging the next generation of innovative problem solvers,” said Paige Evans, clinical associate professor of mathematics and science master teacher with teachHOUSTON.

Evans added that a sound understanding of STEM concepts strengthens many of the skills people use every day such as solving problems creatively, thinking critically, working cooperatively, and using technology effectively.

Opportunities for teachHOUSTON Students

UH undergraduates enrolled in UH’s teachHOUSTON program served a camp counselors for all three summer programs. Through teachHOUSTON, NSM majors gain exposure to teaching throughout their four years at UH and commit to teach high school math or science upon graduation.

stem-camp-3Experiments during the Cougar STEM Camp included investigating the flammability of various materials.“As counselors, our teachHOUSTON students interacted with campers of different backgrounds, prepared and executed engaging and effective lessons, and created a positive learning environment,” said Perri Segura, clinical associate professor of mathematics and science master teacher with teachHOUSTON.

Serving as counselors provided the teachHOUSTON students with an opportunity to serve as leaders and grow as future STEM educators.

Camps to Expand Next Year

All three camps will be held in summer 2015 with the two newer camps expanding activities to include additional themed weeks and involving tours of lab facilities with NSM professors.

“It was extremely rewarding to see our campers reluctant to leave and excited to come back the next day,” Segura said.

To be added to the mailing lists for both camps, please email

Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics