Pyramid STEM Showcase takes Philly Tech Week to North Philly - Technical.ly Philly

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May 2, 2016 5:05 pm

Pyramid STEM Showcase takes Philly Tech Week to North Philly

Now in its fifth year, the Pyramid STEM Showcase featured excavated artifacts, littleBits and Drake. Kind of.

At the Pyramid STEM Showcase, Miriam Medical Clinics displays the model of a spine.

(Photo by Lian Parsons)

Dr. Michael Johnson believes that healthcare is a science that “you can take everywhere.”

Science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, “is not just about computers,” Johnson said, “but it’s about people-to-people interaction that impacts their lives.”

Johnson is a physician with North Philly-based Miriam Medical Clinics, one of the more than 10 groups and organizations at the Pyramid STEM Showcase Saturday afternoon at The View in North Philly.

As part of Philly Tech Week 2016 presented by Comcast, the annual Pyramid Showcase, organized by Deborah Gary’s tech consultancy DHEx Enterprises and Color Book Gallery, is a free event to expose community members and their families to tech programs in the city. It’s one of the few legacy Philly Tech Week events that occur outside of the usual neighborhoods: Center City and University City. (Nonprofit Coded by Kids is also working to change that by hosting events in neighborhoods like Southwest Philly and North Philly.)

Miriam Medical Clinics, a sponsor of the showcase, is a clinic for people with inadequate healthcare, who are either under- or uninsured. The organization works with local churches and is planning to open a second site in South Philly.

“One of the things that really imperils our community is a lack of education and educational opportunities,” Johnson said. “We wanted to expose the community to opportunities in the healthcare field.”

Nate Walter (left) and Dr. Neil Pitt from Miriam Medical Clinics examine the music engineering presentation.

Nate Walter (left) and Dr. Neil Pitt from Miriam Medical Clinics examine the music engineering presentation. (Photo by Lian Parsons)

Brothers Aaron Walter, 16, and Nate Walter, 17, played guitars to present their information about music engineering. Their set list included an acoustic version of “Hotline Bling” by Drake and “Hello” by Adele.

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“Anyone can make any type of music with acoustic or electronic [instruments],” said Aaron Walter, who started playing music at eight years old, when he and his brother got plastic recorders from the dollar store.

The brothers taught showcase visitors basic guitar chords and the difference between acoustic and electric music. They have attended other STEM-based events, like PClassic, a programming competition for high school students hosted by the Dining Philosophers, a computer science club at Penn.

Also featured at the showcase were education nonprofit TechGirlz and Cheyney University archaeology students Jasmine Cooper, Jarelyn Rosario and Kèjuan Byrd, who presented their findings from two excavation sites, including one at George Washington’s house in Old City.

The students had two sets of artifacts and asked visitors to guess what the objects were originally, like a pipe, an iron leg of a piece of furniture and a china plate.

Artifacts from Cheyney University archaeology digs.

Artifacts from Cheyney University archaeology digs. (Photo by Lian Parsons)

Darlene Thompson, who’s been working with the showcase for the past four years, was showing off her aluminum-free and all-natural products like bath salts and deodorants from scratch. The products in pastel yellow, purple and pink were displayed in small glass jars, labeled with their ingredients and were available for purchase.

She said the showcase is a way to expose people and entrepreneurs like her to different opportunities.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Thompson said. “[The showcase] introduces people to programs I didn’t even know existed.”

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