The first African-​​American astro­naut to walk in space and the mayor of the City of Boston may not sound as though they have a lot in common. But last week, before 600 stu­dents, they formed a solid front to encourage stu­dents to dream big and apply them­selves in sci­ence and math.

Stu­dents at the Curley K-​​8 School in Jamaica Plain met Bernard Harris, the astro­naut, and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, when they came together for Harris’ Dream Tour, which included a demon­stra­tion on space flight and dia­logue about achieving goals.

Harris and Menino talked about what it takes to be an astro­naut and how impor­tant STEM (Sci­ence, Tech­nology, Engi­neering and Math) edu­ca­tion has been to their careers.

The Curley School is one of Northeastern’s partner schools for the Step Up ini­tia­tive, estab­lished by Menino in 2006. The col­lab­o­ra­tion between five area uni­ver­si­ties (North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, Boston Col­lege, Boston Uni­ver­sity, Tufts Uni­ver­sity and Har­vard Uni­ver­sity) and 10 Boston public schools aims to reduce the achieve­ment gap by sup­porting schools with exper­tise and resources.

Northeastern’s Center for STEM Edu­ca­tion and the Col­lege of Engi­neering, which hosted 48 Boston-​​area middle school stu­dents this past summer as part of the Bernard Harris Summer Sci­ence Pro­gram, were piv­otal in bringing the Dream Tour to the Curley K-​​8 School, one of only 10 schools in the country this year to take part in the program.

More than 600 stu­dents from one of Northeastern’s Step Up partner schools had the oppor­tu­nity to spend the day with an astro­naut,” said Claire Duggan, asso­ciate director of Northeastern’s Center for STEM Edu­ca­tion. “It is not often that a grant given to sup­port pro­grams in math and sci­ence pro­vides the oppor­tu­nity to be part of some­thing mag­ical, and I hope that pro­grams like these inspire stu­dents to dream big.”

The Dream Tour, pre­sented by Exxon­Mobil and the Harris Foun­da­tion, is designed to help stu­dents reach their poten­tial through strong math and sci­ence pro­grams and to pro­vide improved class­room tools for teachers.

America’s stu­dents have incred­ible oppor­tu­ni­ties in careers that haven’t even been cre­ated yet,” said Harris. “The Dream Tour is one way to open their eyes to the lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties they have in their hands as long as math and sci­ence edu­ca­tion is part of the equation.”