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Project HOME just opened a STEAM Lab for students in North Philadelphia

Kindergarteners through high schoolers have access to hands-on activities including coding, robotics and digital arts.

Project HOME's STEAM Lab opened on Jan. 22. (Courtesy photo)

Technical.ly is one of 20+ news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push toward economic justice.

Fairmount-based social services nonprofit Project HOME opened the doors of a science, technology, engineering, media arts and math lab at its Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Lab (HLCCTL) on Wednesday.

At the STEAM Lab near 24th and Diamond streets, students will be able to build circuits, learn to code, work with robotics, practice digital arts and more. The lab is available for use from Monday to Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. and is open to students enrolled in the learning center’s after-school and college access programs. Its curriculum follows a project-based learning model and can be completed with or without computers.

“Quality education for every child should not be a luxury, it’s a basic need,” said Sister Mary Scullion, cofounder and executive director of Project HOME, in a press statement. “This lab represents an exciting new learning environment where our students will have opportunities, previously out of reach, to develop critical thinking skills, and cultivate a persistent drive to creatively solve problems in the world around them.”

Students as young as kindergarten can use the space. High schoolers will be offered programs such as advanced robotics, software engineering, and building and construction.

The 30-year-old Project HOME has an anti-homelessness mission that extends to ensuring that poverty does not prevent Philly youth from receiving an education. HLCCTL, the 38,000-square-foot hub of the nonprofit’s education initiative, opened in 2004.

The launch of the STEAM Lab is not the first time Project HOME has started a STEAM-focused initiative: It also launched a robotics program in 2017 for teens in partnership with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a nonprofit agency that aims to inspire young people to be science and technology innovators, according to a spokesperson.

In 2018, Project HOME launched a second robotics team for fourth- through eighth-grade students through which students design, build and program a robot using Lego Mindstorms and compete against other teams in regional and local competitions.

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