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Watch: Students from Science Center’s FirstHand program share its impact in a new short film


A recent cohort of the University City Science Center’s STEM education program FirstHand is featured in a short film produced by UnitEd for Equality.

The film highlights what the high schoolers have learned — and why they’re intrigued by and pursuing careers in technology.

UnitED for Equality is a program created by Strayer University in partnership with the Blackhouse Foundation, which works to elevate diverse voices in filmmaking. UnitED reached out to the Science Center about a year ago with interest in featuring FirstHand, a spokesperson said. Local director André Robert Lee filmed and interviewed the FirstHand team and students, as well as Paul Robeson High School for Human Services Principal Richard M. Gordon IV, earlier this year.

The program, first launched in 2014, offers project-based and career-exposing programming to local schools and community org. The program went virtual during the pandemic, but the Science Center was still able to work with more than 250 middle and high schoolers from 12 Philly schools. It recently received funding from the state to expand its reach.

“All my life, I grew up thinking I was going to be a technological designer. I loved games, I loved movies,” a student named Tymere says in the film with a hint of pride.

“I actually got banned from [the] PlayStation network due to changing the colors inside the game online,” he continued. “One of my cousins is colorblind, so he couldn’t play the game just like I could play it. So he smiled since he could play the game finally. I always wanted to tackle that.”

“Capturing these students’ genuine passion and endless potential on film was such a joyful process,” Lee said in a statement. “Strayer students will be able to feel that emotion while engaging with the film and I’m hoping it compels them to get involved in their own communities.”

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Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing