A first hand experience with STEM, design, and entrepreneurship.
Middle School Tracks
Participating middle school students perform hands-on experiments, design prototypes, and meet real-world STEM professionals. We currently offer the following middle school tracks:
Students create, test, and design with their own biodegradable polymers while gaining an understanding of what it really means to be a material scientist.
Students understand the structure and many functions of DNA through practicing microscopy and gel electrophoresis, the same technologies that biotechnology companies use every day.
Developed in collaboration with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, students create their own genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and then design, bake, and market a snack utilizing these GMOs.
Co-developed with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) computer scientists, students are introduced to coding and app development through an empathy-based design lens.
STEM in the Real World
"When would I ever use this in real life?!” - a question often asked by students. This summer program explores real-life applications of science through hands-on experiments in students’ homes – all supplies are provided.
Five days, five STEM career paths. Hi-5 is a summer program that highlights careers in microscopy, materials science, taste and smell research, and more. FirstHand alumni serve as mentors by helping to develop student activities and supporting facilitation of the sessions.
Students will apply design thinking principles to prototype new uses for e-textiles and wearables that have meaning to them. We will engage subject-matter experts from the Navy throughout the program, and receive an introduction to soft robotics.
High School Sprints
FirstHand Sprints are collaborations between industry mentors and FirstHand.
Each curriculum is co-designed and co-delivered by the mentors and the FirstHand team to reflect the skills and topics of the emerging industry while centering the needs of Philadelphia students.
Sprints range from 16-36 hours of instruction time, occurring outside of regular school hours.
how to participate:
- Students are selected through an application process
- Open to all Philadelphia high school students
Why you should participate:
- Sprints are FREE and participating students will earn a stipend!
- Sprints offer an opportunity for high school students to connect with credentials and internships.
Our FirstHand Sprints include:
NFTE BizCamp Sprint
In this course, students develop an entrepreneurial mindset as they develop an original business plan and a pitch. They learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and develop their business plan, they learn how to think and act entrepreneurially within any career they decide to pursue.
Skills & Topics
Entrepreneurial mindset: Presentation, Business Planning, Pitch Presentations
Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner
This program is a great fit for any student who is interested in entrepreneurship, developing a unique business idea, or learning how to think like an entrepreneur. Courses open to students in Grades 9-12.
This program is a great fit for any professional who has experience running a small business or other entrepreneurial endeavors.
Courses will be held at 3675 Market Street, 5th Floor (In-Person) in the FirstHand lab. Courses are held twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting Tuesday, April 25th and ending on Thursday, June 8th.
This two-week summer intensive is a crash course in techniques used in biotech. Alongside scientists from six Philadelphia companies, you will practice labs skills including lab safety, microscopy and cell engineering, and you’ll hone your critical thinking skills with discuss topics like bioethics, vaccines and science in the news.
Various biotech companies in uCity Square: Amicus Therapeutics, Cabaletta Bio, Century Therapeutics, CIC, Integral Molecular, Invisible Sentinel.
Skills & Topics
Lab Safety, aseptic technique, PCR, privacy of genetic information, bioethics, vaccines in society,
This program is a great fit for any student who is interested in exploring careers in biology, enjoys discussing interesting topics in groups, wants to know what happens inside a life science laboratory
This program is a great fit for any professional who works in the biotech industry. We want to include the variety of professions represented in the industry, not just bench scientists.
Courses will be held at 3675 Market Street, 5th Floor (In-Person) in the FirstHand lab.
Human Centered Design Sprint
Our very first sprint! A project-based course where students will identify a problem to be solved and then design a human-centered technology solution (app or otherwise) that will help solve the issue.
Skills & Topics
UX Designer, UI Designer
This program is a great fit for any student who enjoys tech, design, and mobile apps.
This program is a great fit for any professional who has experience in: UX Design, Mobile App or Web Design.
Past Internship placements
Philly Data Miners
Introduces students to the world of data science by analyzing Philly-centric data sets to reveal the story behind the numbers.
Skills & Topics
Making decisions and communicating ideas using data, data bias, using Microsoft Excel and databases, organizing, and collecting, data visualization, correlations, open API’s, computer skill development
Data Scientist, Data Analyst
This program is a great fit for any student who is curious how to answer big questions using evidence or wants to know how to manipulate data to explore the world around them. The curriculum emphasizes student access to datasets from the social media platform Twitter, providing access to data sources that are both familiar to social media natives and expansive across topics and opinions, enabling users to participate along trajectories couched in their personally and culturally relevant interests.
This program is a great fit for any professional who has worked in the Data Science, Data Analytics, and/or Computer Science fields.
Introduces students to various topics in information security through hands on activities and challenges.
Skills & Topics
Security, Computing, Programming, Networking, Cryptography, Social Engineering, Risk, Policy, & Contingency Planning
Information Security Analyst, Cybersecurity Engineer
This program is a great fit for any student who is interested in Computer Science and Information Technology (IT).
This program is a great fit for any professional who has experience in: Computer Science, Networking, and general IT.
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.