Sign up for updates. Be part of our community.


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

FirstHand students collaborating on a STEM project
FirstHand students collaborating on a STEM project

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

Director of STEM Education Initiatives

Who is this program for?

  • 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

Program Benefits

Career Exposure

High school students work directly with professional mentors in real-world, career simulations. Middle school students are introduced to STEM career opportunities in their own neighborhood by visiting STEM labs and workspaces.

Exposure to STEM

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


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.

Learn about mentorship opportunities

Hands-on Learning

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

View Curriculum

Virtual Learning

The learning doesn’t stop just because we can’t be in the lab, whether it’s delivering “at-home” STEM kits, providing supplemental support to teachers conducting virtual classes, or with remote project-based curricula like FirstHand Summer Ventures, Move Into Physics or STEM in the Real World.

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

As of May 1, 2015
Students Served
Youth Impact Hours
STEM Mentors Involved
Companies Engaged in Mentoring
School Partners

Program FAQs

Become a Mentor

Inspire the next generation of STEM professionals by serving as a mentor to our FirstHand students. Work with middle and high school students from under-represented communities in Philadelphia, for hands-on, project-based learning in our dedicated FirstHand Lab or your space. Our mentors are scientists, designers, entrepreneurs, and engineers, but we welcome mentors with all types of backgrounds and skill sets.

Contact Us
A female graphic designer instructs a teenage boy and girl with their designs on their laptops