Aug. 13, 2015 11:29 am

University Science Center announces FirstHand STEAM programming starting fall 2015

FirstHand offers interactive, hands on curriculum for students

The University City Science Center has announced its FirstHand programs for the 2015- 2016 school year. FirstHand offers middle schoolers and educators hands-on experiences in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math fields designed to spark interest in STEAM disciplines and their applications. Last year, 535 students participated in FirstHand’s programs.

Programs take place in a lab at 3624 Market Street on the Science Center campus alongside professional scientists. Students will have the opportunity to design experiments, test hypotheses, and present final projects and findings. In addition, students learn about entrepreneurship and explore creative solutions to real-world problems.

FirstHand will continue its three programs for this school year:

  • DNA Selfie invites girls to engage in science and explore their identities. They gain confidence in the lab as they study their own DNA and biology, using photo-microscopy and laser cutters to design a creative final project.
  • Polymer Play engages youth in interactive experiments and creative projects to discover properties of polymers. They use laser cutters, vacuum seals, and power tools to create and construct different materials, including bio-plastic.
  • Amp It Up empowers students to understand batteries and circuits. Students investigate electrochemistry via projects and experiments with soldering irons, multimeters, laser cutters, and hand tools.


Each program is 10 weeks and is led by a FirstHand facilitator. They include 25 hours of hands-on workshopping for groups of 15 middle school students from local public, private and charter schools or out-of-school time programs, who attend weekly classes with a teacher or chaperone. Additionally, most programs are free, and SEPTA tokens are provided for transportation to and from the Science Center.
In addition to providing this programming, FirstHand is looking to expand teacher workshops and professional development opportunities in the upcoming year.

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