NextFab 2025 Washington Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19146 +1 (215) 921-3649

Community Projects

A Closer Look: Community Projects

We particularly enjoy working with students from Philadelphia-area secondary schools who might not otherwise have the opportunity to work creatively with their hands and who may have a poor practical understanding of science and math. We believe we make significant contributions to their confidence, competence, and interest in science and technology and can improve their chances of obtaining further education and a career in a STEM/STEAM-related field.

In addition to the programs outlined below, we also work to develop the technical and workplace skills of youth through internships and co-op employment, and with artists and local arts organizations to expand their capabilities for expression. We typically host 1-2 university co-op students, 1-2 high-school interns, and an artist-in-residence at all times.

The Breadboard Program of the University City Science Center is our primary non-profit outreach partner. NextFab and Breadboard have a formal partnership to develop and support arts and educational outreach (STEM and STEAM) activities that leverage the capabilities of NextFab. Together, we've organized and hosted a wide variety of programs and applied for a number of grants.

Some STEM/STEAM-specific programs executed by NextFab, alone or in partnership, include:

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Sea Perch Robotics Team with Philadelphia Futures(2010-present; ongoing annual event)

NextFab instructs and mentors a team of 6-8 students who compete in the annual U.S. Navy-sponsored Sea Perch Remotely Operated Vehicle competition. The team, which is drawn from several Philadelphia district high schools, is chosen by Philadelphia Futures.

3/30/12 Update:

The 2012 team performed even better than previous years.  They had a month less to design and build their Sea Perch and performed really well in the obstacle course.  The Sea Perch team won won a 2nd place trophy for sportsmanship too!

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Soft Circuit Workshop with Tech Girlz and Breadboard (September 2010) 

Approximately 30 7th and 8th grade girls were introduced to basic electronic circuits in a workshop taught by NextFab staff during which the girls assembled a “Salt n’ Peanut” kit from Soft Circuit.

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Philadelphia Science Festival — Maker Field Day (April, 2011)

We also produced the Maker Field Day held at the Franklin Institute Science Museum. This was a low-intensity competitive event with four stations of hands-on activity for children and adults, featuring speed soldering, “bristle bot” races (robots built using a toothbrush head), a carve-your-own-foam-car derby, and a “Tallest Paper Tower” competition. Winners were presented their awards by esteemed American inventor Dean Kamen, creator of the Segway PT.

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El Centro de Estudiantes Workshop with Breadboard’s Youth Outreach Program (Summer 2011) 

NextFab staff instructed five girls and boys from El Centro de Estudiantes school, an alternative middle-high school that is part of the Big Picture Network, on how to use the Roland VersaCAMM vinyl print/cut system and Adobe Illustrator, and assisted the collaborative design and printing of banners that were installed on the El Centro campus.

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St Mary’s Nusery

We donated services to St Mary’s Nursery, a child care program located at 3916 Locust Walk.  Architect David Salamon designed an acoustic tiling system to reduce noise in one of the playrooms.  Pending fundraising, NextFab will donate services to assist in the fabrication of the acoustic tiles.  The ShopBot CNC Router will be used to cut frames to hold the tiles.  We’re really looking forward to this job!
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First Robotics (2012)

We hosted the Atomic Robotics First Robotics Team for their 2012 season.  Students and mentors came to NextFab to design and create parts for their basketball playing robot.  Students also used our Trotec Speedy 500 to laser cut necklace pendants that they used for fundraising.  The Atomic Robotics Team is currently in competitions and doing well! More images here.

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Donation to Traction Company (March, 2012)

We worked with the Traction Company to print vinyl for their current exhibition, Skyscapes, featuring the work of artist Ryan Hinkel.  We printed the artist’s photographs on vinyl using our Roland VersaCAAM vinyl print/cut machine.  The exhibition is mounted on the old windows of the Traction Company’s building, located in West Philadelphia at 4100 Haverford Ave. 

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Handcranked Jewelry Workshops with Breadboard and LOVID (March, September 2011) 

NextFab hosted and supported a series of workshops aimed at introducing young people to basic electronics through hands-on construction of LED-illuminated jewelry. These workshops were held in conjunction with an exhibit atInternational House.

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Philadelphia Science Festival with the Franklin Institute Science Museum (April 2011)

We participated in the Science Carnival on the Parkway, a one-day event featuring booths and science-related activities geared toward families. We demonstrated a fleet of 3D printers to visitors.

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Product Development for Young Entrepreneurs with The Enterprise Center YES Entrepreneurship Program and Breadboard (Summer 2010) 

Four high-school students participating in the YES Program at TEC were mentored through product-development activities at NextFab. The projects included developing an electric-motor-powered scooter, formulating and testing organic perfumes, creating electronic comic books, and designing and producing custom graphic t-shirts.

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