Sign up for updates. Be part of our community.

FirstHand Curriculum

A first hand experience with STEM, design, and entrepreneurship.

Sci Center 020923 92

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:

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.

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.

BioMake

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.

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.

Hi5

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.

Future Techstyles

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.

Curriculum Collaborator

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)

Skills & Topics

Entrepreneurial mindset: Presentation, Business Planning, Pitch Presentations

Careers highlighted

Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

Student fit

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.

Mentor fit

This program is a great fit for any professional who has experience running a small business or other entrepreneurial endeavors.

PROGRAM LOCATION

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.

Biotechnology Sprint

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.

Curriculum Collaborator

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,

Student fit

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

Mentor fit

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.

program location

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.

Curriculum Collaborator

Dave Royer

Skills & Topics

User testing, mobile app development, storyboarding, design-thinking principals, Figma, Canva

Careers highlighted

UX Designer, UI Designer

Student fit

This program is a great fit for any student who enjoys tech, design, and mobile apps.

Mentor fit

This program is a great fit for any professional who has experience in: UX Design, Mobile App or Web Design.

Past Internship placements

RightOn Education

Philly Data Miners

Introduces students to the world of data science by analyzing Philly-centric data sets to reveal the story behind the numbers.

Curriculum Collaborator
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

Careers highlighted

Data Scientist, Data Analyst

Student fit

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.

Mentor fit

This program is a great fit for any professional who has worked in the Data Science, Data Analytics, and/or Computer Science fields.

Cybersecurity Sprint

Introduces students to various topics in information security through hands on activities and challenges.

Curriculum Collaborator

Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC Pacific)

Skills & Topics

Security, Computing, Programming, Networking, Cryptography, Social Engineering, Risk, Policy, & Contingency Planning

Careers highlighted

Information Security Analyst, Cybersecurity Engineer

Student fit

This program is a great fit for any student who is interested in Computer Science and Information Technology (IT).

Mentor fit

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.

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