What happens when you encourage middle-school students to imagine plastic from start to finish? Give them the raw materials, add a lot of slime, and you’ve got Polymer Play!
The University City Science Center’s newest STEAM program, Polymer Play, will accomplish two goals: introducing a new methodology for materials science education and inspiring city middle-schoolers to explore STEM disciplines and careers. Polymer Play sessions will begin on September 12 and conclude in December 2014 with a project fair and final presentation.
Through youth programming, mentorships, and educator workshops that encourage creative exploration and experiential learning, the Science Center’s STEAM Initiatives department 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 Polymer Play program, which returns for a second year, 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 at KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School, The City School at Spruce Hill, Samuel Huey School and Morton McMichael School will use innovative techniques to solve design problems.
This inquiry-based program will give these middle-schoolers from West Philadelphia opportunities to delve deeper into material science and technology, such as using a laser cutter to create and morph plastics and polymers into their own design.
The real-life applications of these projects are reinforced with tours of labs at the Science Center. Scientists, investors and researchers at the Science Center Port incubator and its resident companies will 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 the program’s relevance to the real world.
The Science Center’s STEAM Initiatives are made possible by the generous support of The Dow Chemical Company’s DowGives Program and Wexford Science + Technology, A BioMed Realty Company. Support for “Polymer Play” is provided by Cognizant Making the Future.
About the Science Center
The University City Science Center is a dynamic hub for innovation, and entrepreneurship and technology development in the Greater Philadelphia region. It provides business incubation, programming, lab and office facilities, and support services for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and growing and established companies. The Science Center was the first, and remains the largest, urban research park in the United States. Since it was founded in 1963, graduate organizations and current residents of the University City Science Center’s Port business incubators have created more than 15,000 jobs that remain in the Greater Philadelphia region today and contribute more than $9 billion to the regional economy annually. For more information about the Science Center, go to ucsc2014review.org.