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Will Inherit theEarth

“In the eyes of this little boy, I saw more than just human beings leaving the planet,” he recalls. “I saw myself following in their footsteps. None of that would have been pos- sible without the science and engineering behind it. I understood that if we were going to explore the moon and go beyond—which is my interest, because I’m a sci-fi buff—the only way to get there was through that type of innovation and technology.” Dr. Harris followed in Eagle Scout Neil

Armstrong’s footsteps all right, though not by walking on the moon (Harris was a Cub Scout). Instead, after graduating from high school, he earned a degree in Biology from the University of Houston and a doctorate in medicine from Texas Tech University School of Medicine. After completing his residency at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Harris trained on a fellowship at NASA’s Ames Research Center and qualified as a flight surgeon at the Aerospace School of Medicine in San Antonio. In 1991, Dr. Harris finally fulfilled his

childhood dream of becoming a NASA astronaut. He flew two missions in space: on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1993 (STS-55) and aboard the first flight of the Russian- American Space Program in 1995 (STS-63), during which he became the first African- American to walk in space. In 1998, two years after leaving NASA, Dr. Harris launched The


Think ‘geek’ suggests insult? Not in the 21st century, says Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr., who tells why your Scouts should study science, technology, engineering, and math—and how to get them interested.

by john r. clark photographs by john r. fulton jr.

Astronaut. Physician. Entrepreneur. Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr. has worn many hats in his 55 years on planet Earth. And above it. As he watched the first

moon landing in July 1969 on the black-and-white TV set in his family’s San Antonio home, the then-13-year-old found himself intuiting the pieces of the scientific puzzle that must have come together to make the historic event happen.

Harris Foundation to support math and science education for America’s youth “as a means to give back,” he says. Space (the textual, not the cosmic

kind) prevents me from giving you the full details of Dr. Harris’ career and accomplishments. Check him out on the Internet—and prepare to feel like an underachiever, if you don’t already. Suffice it to say, Dr. Harris knows a galaxy-load about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). He has gained significant experience serving youth through a series of Exxon- Mobil Foundation-supported science camp programs over which he presides each summer at universities in 25 cities across the country. Now, Dr. Harris serves as spokesper-

son for the BSA’s new STEM-NOVA Award program. Designed to encourage participation and increase interest in STEM subjects, the program offers relevant and fun award- and patch-earning activities to Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers. So why is the BSA calling so much attention to these subjects? I’ll let STEM- NOVA’s national spokesman explain it himself.

 2012 ¿ SCOUTING 33

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