To the young curious minds of West Philadelphia, the FirstHand experience is the opportunity of a lifetime to spark and nurture their interest in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) disciplines. FirstHand is an initiative by the University City Science Center in Philadephia to give at-risk youth access to its knowledge and resources, while lowering the barriers of entry for those seeking a career in a STEM-related field.
The FirstHand experience gives students the unique opportunity to work in a real working laboratory environment. FirstHand's students have access to demonstrations in the laboratories of companies on the Science Center campus and mentorship opportunities with scientists, designers and entrepreneurs who make up the Science Center community.
"The majority of students we serve don't have access to school lab environments. That's why it's important to us that we provide them with high and low-tech tools paired with hands-on project based learning opportunities," explains Monica Cawey, Vice President of Development at the University City Science Center.
Most of FirstHand's lab experiments are based on precise measurement, or results replication. For example, in their Polymer Play program, the students experiment with different levels of bio-polymers and plasticizers to create plastics that fit their project needs. Learning how to weigh properly is an integral part of these projects, and having access to precise weighing instruments is key.
As a part of its ongoing effort to support hands-on learning opportunities for students, OHAUS Corporation has equipped FirstHand's lab with seven Scout Pro balances. These balances are used to show students real life applications of percentages, ratios, graphing, conversions and other mathematical concepts, providing a comprehensive experience.
One of the features that FirstHand finds very effective on the Scout Pro is its Tare function, which recalibrates the reading to zero, regardless of the weight on the pan. "It's one of our first lessons on how to use a balance," says Monica.
FirstHand's electrochemistry program has taken advantage of Scout Pro's Percent Weighing mode which enables comparison of samples for compounding, formulation, or quick weight checking. It's as easy as placing the reference weight on the platform and entering the weight into memory. The display then shows the percentage of the sample weight on the platform compared to the reference weight.
"The OHAUS Scout Pro balances in our lab are extremely user-friendly, and teaching our students to weigh properly has never been easier. They are durable, high quality balances, and add an air of professionalism to our lab," says Monica. "What's even greater is that the hands-on learning opportunity that our middle school students get with the OHAUS Scout Pro sets them up for better opportunities in high school and college."
Learn more about the newly redesigned OHAUS Scout models: