At the Science Center, 12 West Philly school kids learned about STEM and design

Unless Philly’s talent pipeline grows, the local tech ecosystem will continue to be strapped for the talent it needs.

The bigger problem, though, is the economic inequalities the digital divide reimposes on low-income communities. It’s what programs like the University City Science Center’s Project inquiry cohort — a six-month program for high school students in West Philly schools — are trying to solve.

With help from mentors and technologists, the cohort of 12 students took on the project of redesigning the logo and branding materials for a biotech company called Evol Science. Backed by a $20,000 donation from AT&T, students were exposed to scientific design and the prototyping process. They also built skills through the use of 3D printers, laser cutters and Adobe Creative Suite software.

“It’s a good fit for me,” said a high schooler named Jaquil of the Project Inquiry program in a blog post. “Graphic design… that’s what I need to boost my career, but my school hasn’t had graphic design for like five years now. I never knew how to print a T-shirt before, something that graphic designers do. You taught me how to make a shirt in one day! I was like OK, I can dig this.”

“AT&T is proud to support the Science Center’s Project Inquiry because it is just the type of immersive programming that’s so important in guiding students toward academic success and ultimately career success,” said Joseph Divis, assistant vice president-external affairs for AT&T. “Exposing high school students to STEM in the real world through hands-on experience and caring mentors delivers powerful learning and inspiration.”

The final designs were presented on Wednesday at Quorum. Here’s a quick look at the students’ proposals:

Via Technical.ly Philly