Whitaker Center
Central PA’s Nonprofit Center for the Arts

STEM Design Studios



Exciting things are happening at Whitaker Center.  Construction is now complete on our new STEM Design Studios!These newly-renovated labs give visitors the opportunity to explore hands-on, inquiry based activities that allow for exploration of many different STEM activities.


Sledgehammers were flying Tuesday, August 27th, 2019 as we announced the exciting new renovation to the labs within   UPMC Science Center.


The STEM Design studios are located on the Lower Level of the UPMC Science Center. These newly-renovated labs give visitors the opportunity to explore hands-on, inquiry based activities that allow for exploration of many different STEM activities.

Why did the labs need renovated?
The previous labs were built in 1999 with the original building. Not only are the labs in need of a fresh coat of paint and some upgrades after being used for twenty years, but the way we educate children has also changed over two decades. Long gone are the days of hours of direct instruction where students sat at heavy tables in folding chairs listening to a lesson. The new spaces feature flexible furniture and a changing set up which allows for more exploration and interaction. Educators are able to easily move the furniture to work for the activity they are planning and best serve the needs of the learner. Alternative seating is available to spark collaboration and creativity while in the lab spaces. The new design fosters the maker in every patron that enters the building.

What are the labs used for?
The Education Department uses the STEM Design Studios as the hub of their educational programming. To name a few, Girl Scout, Girls in STEM, Discovery Camps, and Drop-in STEM workshops are offered and held within the newly renovated spaces. The newest of these initiatives is the Drop-in STEM Labs.  These are open for all patrons to experience during their visit. Patrons meet a STEM Educator at the lab doors and will be introduced to the day’s inquiry- based challenges. Groups will have time to design, test, and refine their projects to fulfill the posed requirements. These activities may include circuitry, K’Nex design challenges, iPad activities, Pre-K activities, 3D printing, and introductory coding and robotics. The Whitaker Center Education Department is very excited to continue to grow the Drop-in STEM offerings as new technologies and activities are developed.

How is it going to impact the community?
For the first time, all Whitaker Center patrons will have a chance to explore these labs. In the past, the labs were used for paid programming separate from the Science Center. With the new larger doors and open floor plan concept, patrons are able to explore engaging activities while also visiting the Harsco Science Center.  These spaces are no longer be exclusive but rather inclusive to the Science Center guest.

What programs will be added to the Whitaker Center Education portfolio?
Whitaker Center will continue to develop the coding and robotics curriculum in the next year. This programming will be held within the STEM Design Studios and will be continually evolving and meeting the needs of 21st Century learners. The Education Department also plans to explore expanded offerings for Pre-K learners in and out of the STEM Design Studios. With the new studios, the future is bright for Whitaker Center’s Education Department.


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