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This summer, about fifty South Knoxville students will learn about a science mission currently en route to Mars, thanks to a camp being hosted by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Destination Imagination.

The Summer of Innovation, a program established and sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is being held at the Montgomery Village Boys and Girls Club. It began Wednesday and will run through June 8.

It will serve students in fourth through ninth grade who live in the Montgomery Village housing complex.

Through hands-on activities, campers will learn about Curiosity, a NASA flagship science mission scheduled to land on Mars on August 6. Students will also participate in creative problem-solving activities. The free program is funded by a NASA grant, and community members will provide lunch for the students.

Destination Imagination solicited the grant from NASA.

The goal of the Summer of Innovation is to increase the interest of underserved and underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering, and math.

“The program is designed to be fun while empowering our campers with skills to prepare them for the future,” said Britt Dyer, Destination Imagination special projects and events director.

The camp pulls from “some of the incredible educational assets” of Destination Imagination, NASA, and UT, said Robert Gibbs, executive director of UT’s Conferences and Non-Credit Programs, who is helping to coordinate the camp.

“We are proud to have Paul Lewis from our physics department serving as one of the camp instructors,” he said.

Lewis is the director of Space Science Outreach for the UT physics and astronomy department, and teaches many public school programs.

For more information about the Summer of Innovation, visit the website.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,

Britt Dyer (865-755-2777,