Polymer Play Program Launches at University City Science Center

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Eighth-grade students from West Philadelphia will be experimenting with making and recycling bio-plastics.

Middle school students will gain real-life lab experience in materials science by playing and building with polymers as part of the University City Science Center STEAM Initiatives’ newest program, Polymer Play. Beginning in March, 15 students from KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School will go to the Science Center once a week to explore plastic production through a team-directed design project.

Polymer Play is funded by Cognizant’s “Making the Future” grant - an initiative to fund after-school, in-school, and summer programs aimed at sparking interest in the STEM fields.

Polymer Play teaches teams of eighth grade students the ins and outs of materials science through design-based challenges. The students will study, make and recycle bio-plastics and experiment with tools including vacuum seals, laser cutters and power tools. Projects will be fostered and developed through interactions with on-campus scientists and entrepreneurs. A final team project will be designed and built by the group and exhibited to the public on the Science Center’s campus.

The Science Center's STEAM Initiatives program was one of 33 youth-serving non-profit organizations to receive Cognizant’s “Making the Future” grants in 2014. The Cognizant grant program focuses on inspiring children, particularly girls and underrepresented minorities. Cognizant’s “Making the Future” education initiative has awarded over $5 million in four years to inspire children through fun and hands-on STEM learning opportunities. ”Making the Future” will support three sessions and 45 students through the Polymer Play program.

About the Science Center
The University City Science Center is a dynamic hub for innovation, 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 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.

The Science Center’s STEAM Initiatives program explores intersections between contemporary art, design, science and technology. Expanding on 30+ years of Esther Klein Gallery programming, the program’s mission is to convene communities around creative applications of technology.

About Cognizant
Headquartered in Teaneck, New Jersey, Cognizant combines a passion for client satisfaction, technology innovation, deep industry and business process expertise, and a global, collaborative workforce that embodies the future of work. With over 50 delivery centers worldwide and approximately 171,400 employees as of December 31, 2013, Cognizant is a member of the NASDAQ-100, the S&P 500, the Forbes Global 2000, and the Fortune 500 and is ranked among the top performing and fastest growing companies in the world.

About KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School
The mission of KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School is to develop the character, knowledge, and skills of our students so they will succeed in top-quality high schools, college, and the competitive world beyond. With an emphasis on service learning, KIPP West encourages students to give back to their community by completing volunteer hours. In addition to exciting field lessons and end of year trips, KIPP offers enrichment activities like art, step, and an outdoor education class that teaches team building and leadership skills.

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Jeanne Mell

Kristen Fitch
University City Science Center
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