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Nurturing a 21st century STEM workforce to create a more equitable talent pipeline

Two younger students wearing lab coats and gloves working together on a project in a lab.
FirstHand students working together on experiment in FirstHand lab space.

About FirstHand

FirstHand™ offers free year-round, STEM learning for middle and high school students and is designed to provide skills-based career exposure. Our FirstHand Lab connects local students to the entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem in Philadelphia. Our industry-informed curricula provides real-world, hands-on experience to open doors for the minds of tomorrow.

Headshot of Maya Heiland

Maya Heiland

Senior Director, STEM Education Initiatives

Who is this program for?

Program Benefits

STEM Career Exposure

We inspire an early interest in the STEM disciplines and supplement the classroom experiences with hands-on, project-based lessons with real world applications.

How it works

Hands-on Learning

Our lab-based programming incorporates project-based learning and industry-relevant curricula.

View Curriculum and Apply


You can’t be what you can’t see. That’s why we engage STEM professionals to demonstrate what a variety of STEM careers look like and provide guidance to students.

Become a mentor
  • Male instructor wearing business attire instructs two teenage girls with their STEM project
  • FirstHand students collaborating on a STEM project
    FirstHand students collaborating on a STEM project

A look inside the FirstHand Lab

  • STEM in action

  • STEM in action

  • Making the pitch

  • In the lab

  • The FirstHand team

I’m most excited about how I’m gonna actually make something of my own from scratch and look forward to seeing how it turns out. I’ve been working on it every day!

Tiara Milas-Stark, 10th grader at Paul Robeson High School

FirstHand Impact

Students Served
hours student engagement
STEM Mentors Involved
Mentor Companies

Program FAQs

Interested in being a FirstHand Mentor?

Inspire the next generation of STEM professionals by serving as a mentor to our FirstHand students. Our mentors are scientists, designers, entrepreneurs, and engineers, but we welcome mentors with all types of backgrounds and skill sets.

Find out how
A female graphic designer instructs a teenage boy and girl with their designs on their laptops