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FirstHand Curriculum

A first hand experience with science, technology, engineering, and math

Teenage boy presents logo design to a group of peers from his laptop

Middle School Tracks

Participating middle school students perform hands-on experiments, design prototypes, and meet real-world STEM professionals. We currently offer 6 middle school tracks:

Want to know more about our STEM curriculum?

Polymer Play

Students create, test, and design with their own biodegradable polymers while gaining an understanding of what it really means to be a material scientist.

Amp It Up

Students explore the inner workings and real-world applications of batteries and circuits to design their own working prototypes.

DNA Selfie

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.

Health Hackers

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.

High School Track

FirstHand’s high school track mirrors the real-world work experience across a variety of STEM adjacent fields. Students earn achievement-based stipends for project challenges that vary each semester depending on the mentor partner. Past projects have included:

  • Branding and logo redesign for local biotechnology companies, in partnership with professional design firm, Cohere
  • A social entrepreneurship project through which students identified problems and prototyped solutions for their communities, in partnership with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • A digital marketing project through which students designed, published, and analyzed digital ads for the Science Center, in partnership with Seer Interactive
  • Industry collaborative Sprints
  • Open to all Philadelphia High School students
  • Connected to credentials and internships

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