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Education Secretary Rivera Continues #SummerOfSTEM Tour at University City Science Center

Harrisburg, PA - Building on the Wolf administration’s commitment to expanding education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera today visited Philadelphia’s University City Science Center to observe the FirstHand initiative summer program, where elementary school students learn about the science of molecular gastronomy.

“This fun, innovative program introduces students to STEM concepts through the process of cooking,” said Rivera. “Students learned about the factors that affect flavor and then conducted experiments to see how changing chemical and physical variables, such as temperature or texture, impacted the taste of food. Hands-on camps like this are a great way to keep young students engaged and learning during the summer.”

Rivera’s visit was part of PDE’s #SummerOfSTEM tour, which includes visits from Wolf Administration officials to educational camps, libraries, and colleges across Pennsylvania to highlight the importance of STEM and computer science education, and summer learning.

For the third consecutive year, the Science Center’s FirstHand initiative partnered with Sunrise of Philadelphia to bring in a group of 13 students from Edwin M. Stanton School for the program. Taste Test challenges students’ perception of taste through active experimentation with diverse flavor combinations.

The summer program culminated today with a showcase where students presented their culinary innovations to Secretary Rivera and members of the Science Center community.

Increasing access to education in the fast-growing STEM fields is a top priority of Governor Tom Wolf. Through the governor’s PAsmart initiative, Pennsylvania is investing $30 million in workforce development, including $20 million for STEM and computer science learning.

Pennsylvania is a leader in STEM education, with the third largest number of nationally-recognized STEM ecosystems and producing the fifth highest number of STEM graduates. Regarding computer science, the commonwealth recently became one of a fewer than a dozen states to endorse computer science education standards.

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