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Science Center Pilots Program for Young Culinary Innovators and Institute for Educators

Curious minds in Philadelphia won’t need to take the summer off, thanks to a new lineup of summer STEM education programs at the University City Science Center. Starting in July, the Science Center’s FirstHand initiative will offer Taste Test, a new program that introduces youth to molecular gastronomy and culinary innovations. FirstHand will also pilot a new professional development program targeting Philadelphia-based middle school teachers. The FirstHand Institute for Educators’ first class will debut in August.

Taste Test will focus on the science of gastronomy and challenge middle school students’ perceptions of taste through active experimentation. Participants will step into the world of molecular gastronomy and see how genetics, texture, phases of matter, and presentation of foods affect the taste experience. Visits to Science Center-based labs will inspire the students’ own creative culinary innovations. Taste Test will accommodate two groups of 15 youth from Sunrise of Philadelphia. Taste Test is generously supported by grants from The Lenfest Foundation and TD Bank Charitable Foundation.

Also piloting this summer is the FirstHand Institute for Educators, which will target middle school science teachers from four Philadelphia schools. Building on FirstHand's focus on teamwork and investigative skills, teachers will explore the integration of the classroom and the workplace as part of this summer professional development series. By meeting and interacting with different aspects of the STEM ecosystem at the Science Center, teachers will see how a 21st-century workplace is powered. Visits to working labs within the Science Center's Port business incubator, combined with use of the FirstHand Lab, will inspire creative innovations in lessons and unit plans and improve student learning. The FirstHand Institute for Educators is generously supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.

Serving Philadelphia youth from under-resourced schools and the teachers, professionals and families from their communities, FirstHand aims to spark an interest in the STEAM disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math that students can explore and cultivate throughout their lives. By giving students the opportunity to explore, ask more questions, and create new solutions, FirstHand is opening the doors for the minds of tomorrow.

Other supporters of FirstHand include Cognizant Making the Future, The Dow Chemical Company, OHAUS, Rainin Instruments LLC, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Troemner, LLC.

About the Science Center

Located in the heart of uCity Square, the University City Science Center is a dynamic hub for innovation, and entrepreneurship and technology development in the Greater Philadelphia region. Founded in 1963 as the nation’s first urban research park, it provides business incubation, programming, lab and office facilities, and support services for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and growing and established companies. Graduate firms and current residents of the Science Center’s business incubator support one out of every 100 jobs in Greater Philadelphia and drive $12.9 billion in economic activity in the region annually. For more information about the Science Center, go to

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Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing