An astronaut’s space­suit must ful­fill many func­tions, most of which were easily rat­tled off by more than two dozen middle school stu­dents on campus for an inten­sive summer sci­ence camp.

Pro­vide air to a space trav­eler? Cer­tainly. Shield him or her from the sun’s pow­erful rays? Check. Be durable and strong yet still give the astro­naut enough freedom to con­duct a com­pli­cated space­walk? For sure. Pro­tect against aliens? Maybe.

You cer­tainly don’t just put on a bunch of layers of clothes and go out­side,” said Daniel Sul­livan, E’11, a camp staff member.

Stu­dents col­lab­o­rate on the design of a space­suit capable of with­standing pow­erful debris. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

[media-​​credit id=19 align=“alignleft” width=“350”][/media-credit]Designing a mate­rial to make up a mul­ti­lay­ered space­suit was just one of many tasks com­pleted by stu­dents who are par­tic­i­pating in the Exxon­Mobil Bernard Harris Summer Sci­ence Camp. The free, two-​​week pro­gram — run by Northeastern’s Center for STEM Edu­ca­tion and named after the first African-​​American to con­duct a space­walk — gives stu­dents the chance to work along­side North­eastern fac­ulty, staff and stu­dents on projects aimed at increasing their knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence in the areas of sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering and math­e­matics (STEM).

On Wednesday morning, stu­dents designed mate­rials that could pro­tect an astro­naut from space junk, and in the after­noon, they built their own minirockets and launched them into the sky.

The scientists-​​in-​​training said they are having a blast.

Bishop Edwards, an 11-​​year-​​old rising sixth-​​grader from Dorch­ester, received an appli­ca­tion for the sci­ence camp from his church and could not be hap­pier with the expe­ri­ence. “It’s actu­ally a lot of fun,” he said. “We’re always building things and doing experiments.”

Edwards noted that his egg was the sole sur­vivor in an egg-​​dropping com­pe­ti­tion, explaining that a con­trap­tion fash­ioned out of straws and cotton balls pro­tected his egg from the impact of a 20-​​foot fall.

Jen­nifer Kim, a 13-​​year-​​old rising seventh-​​grader from Win­chester, Mass., agreed with Edwards’ assess­ment of the camp. “I feel like we’re prac­ticing to go to col­lege,” she said. “You may miss your family, but there is so much fun stuff going on here, and you’re learning so much that you’re happy to be here.”

Bob Git­tens, Northeastern’s vice pres­i­dent for public affairs, noted that a main goal of the pro­gram is to expose stu­dents to the ben­e­fits higher education.

Some of you may be thinking ‘No one in my family has gone to col­lege’ or ‘We don’t have the money to go to col­lege,’” Git­tens told the stu­dents on Wednesday morning. “That’s what I thought, too.”

Git­tens, a Dorch­ester native, said that he real­ized that ded­i­cating time to his school­work and con­structing a strong net­work of advo­cates would help him find his way to col­lege. It wasn’t unrea­son­able for any stu­dent in the camp, he said, to follow a sim­ilar path with enough hard work.

One of Dr. Harris’ state­ments that he likes to share with stu­dents,” added STEM’s director of pro­grams and oper­a­tions, Claire Duggan, “is ‘I am an infi­nite being with infi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties.’ I want you to believe that. I want you to remember that.”