Science Center Program Helps Middle School Students Amp Up Their STEM Knowledge

Electricity, batteries and currents are three concepts that are part of our daily existence but often operate under our radar. That’s all changing for a group of Philadelphia middle-school students. AmpItUp, the University City Science Center’s newest STEAM Initiatives program, will give 7th and 8th graders an opportunity to explore the inner workings of the batteries and circuits that power our daily activities. AmpItUp sessions will begin on January 28 and conclude in April 2015 with a project fair and final presentation.

Building on the teamwork and investigation skills they developed in the STEAM Initiatives’ Polymer Play program, 7th and 8th grade students from KiPP West Philadelphia and Samuel B. Huey School will explore the science of batteries. The middle school students will step into the world of electrochemistry and have a chance to tinker with designing different types of batteries and experimenting with electrical circuits. Real-life lab visits to Science Center-based companies, combined with instruction in soldering irons, multimeters, laser cutters, and hand tools will provide inspiration for the students’ team projects. At the conclusion of the program, an exhibit of the teams’ final projects will to be presented to the public at the Science Center.

Thanks to continued support from Cognizant Making the Future, the Polymer Play program returns for a third session with students from the City School and Morton McMichael School. The program began on January 28 and will conclude in May 2015 with a demo day at the Science Center where participants will show off their final projects. Polymer Play continues to emphasize materials science through project-based learning. By making bio-plastics, solving problems through design projects, and recycling used containers into new products, students are using innovative techniques as they delve deeper into material science and technology, using tools such as laser cutters to create and morph plastics and polymers into their own design.

“This has been a transformative experience for Samuel B. Huey Students STEM Scholars. The programming offered through the Science Center’s STEAM Initiatives has given our students an opportunity to see and participate in real-life applications of the concepts they learn in school” says Samuel B. Huey Principal, John W. Spencer. “The experience at the Science Center will have a long lasting impact on the lives of our students. I could always tell from my students’ faces when it was time to go to The Science Center. You could see the enthusiasm in the faces. This type of hands-on, experiential learning offers these kids a sampling of the types of careers possible when armed with knowledge in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.”

Through youth programming, mentorships, and educator workshops that encourage creative exploration and experiential learning, the Science Center’s STEAM Initiatives program is using Art to encourage entry into the STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – and ensuring that today’s generation of students are prepared to become tomorrow’s innovation workforce.

The real-life applications of the students’ projects are reinforced with tours of labs at the Science Center. Scientists, investors and researchers at the Science Center’s Port business incubator and its resident companies mentor the students and inspire their creativity and dedication through workshops and demonstrations. The Port companies’ work in STEM fields will leave students with a strong understanding of science’s relevance to the real world.

The Science Center’s STEAM Initiatives are made possible by the generous support of Cognizant Making the Future, The Dow Chemical Company’s DowGives Program and Wexford Science + Technology, A BioMed Realty Company.

Read the full article on the Science Center’s website.