Lab Coat Confidential: Guest Report from Aziza

This is a guest post written by Aziza, a high school senior who has spent the past two weeks interning here at FirstHand. Aziza first came to the Science Center after her math teacher attended the FirstHand Teachers Institute and decided to bring his class on a Science Center Experience tour. We were excited to have Aziza return and help out with everything from Polymer Play classes to building vortex cannons for our mentor appreciation event. Read on to learn more about her experience!  

Above, Aziza tests out the 3D printer

My name is Aziza Amoroso and I am a senior at J.R. Masterman High School. Every student in the Philadelphia School District is required to complete a senior project at the end of their high school career. The project is a two week internship at an organization of your choice and must involve something that you’re interested in and want to explore. I was lucky enough to get to work with the amazing people at FirstHand.

When I walked through the doors of the Science Center, I didn’t know what to expect. I barely knew about FirstHand and what the organization had to offer, but after meeting my mentors Adam and Maya, I knew it was going to be an enjoyable two weeks. Maya’s cheerful attitude and Adam’s warm smile helped make me feel comfortable and right at home. On the first day I was given a tour of the labs and got an idea of what happens here. The atmosphere of the place is friendly and inviting. Seeing the labs and what they have to offer made me excited to get in and start working.

Over the course of two weeks, I was introduced to technology that I never thought I would get to use, including a laser cutter and 3D printer. I learned how use programs like Adobe Illustrator and other resources only used by experts in college settings. Using these programs, I was able to create many objects varying from a laser cut wooden house to a 3d printed plant pot.

Going to a school like Masterman, I thought I was lucky since I had access to labs that were stocked with the materials necessary to conduct experiments. The children who get to work in the labs at FirstHand are even luckier! They get access to modern technology that most only dream of using. They get to use their creativity to make objects and designs on platforms different from the normal. What stands out the most is how the teachers learn and explore with you. Just like the students, the technology being used at FirstHand is fairly new to the teachers as well. Instead of dumping all the information onto the students, the teachers take the time to grow alongside their students and engage in the material being presented. It makes the learning experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.

The last two weeks have been more than just a project for me. They’ve been an eye opener into a world that I never looked at before. I was always interested in STEM related fields, but working at FirstHand showed me that there’s more to STEM than equations and formulas, it showed me that STEM can be a creative and fun experience where you can let your imagination run wild.