STEM Opportunities in Eastern Pennsylvania

The communities of Harrisburg, Hershey and College Park offer numerous science camps and physics learning opportunities.

Hershey is known globally for its chocolate, but this town isn’t just overflowing with chocolate, it’s also overflowing with STEM. Take students on an indulgent and exciting trip to eastern Pennsylvania.

Located just east of Pennsylvania’s capital city, Harrisburg, Hershey, Pennsylvania was created for the workers at the Hershey Chocolate Factory. The Hershey Company is one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world, but there’s way more to eastern Pennsylvania than chocolate. Here, students will explore STEM throughout Harrisburg, Hershey and parts of eastern Pennsylvania.

Museums and Zoos

​Originally founded in 1953, the North Museum of Nature and Science quickly became a destination in the Lancaster community for introducing young people to the natural world. The museum strives to enable knowledge of nature and science by inspiring individuals, engaging communities and connecting organizations. Offering both Independent and Guided Exploration options, the museum provides an interactive and engaging experience for students to explore the North Museum of Nature and Science as well as the Planetarium Theater. Girlsgrades 6-12 can also participate in the STEM Sisters program which is an opportunity to meet professional women in STEM careers through hands-on activities, engaging programs and various site visits.

​Serving the Harrisburg community through education, entertainment and art since 1999, the Whitaker Center is a place to discover science, technology and the arts through interactive STEM-based exhibits. Walk through the three floors of the Harsco Science Center, watch a documentary in the Select Medical Digital Cinema, get hands-on learning at a Drop-In STEM Workshop or see and hear a surgical team and ask questions in real-time while watching a live surgery. Fit the needs of your students while they gain problem-solving skills and gain an appreciation and love of STEM.

Da Vinci Center, Credit Discover Lehigh Valley

​Recognized as one of the top automotive museums in the world, the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum strives to give visitors a world-class experience of the historic evolution and potential impacts of one of the most culturally defining innovations of modern times. With over 150 vehicles on rotation in the museum’s permanent collection, give students an interactive and exciting experience at the AACA Museum through an educational tour (both guided or self-guided tours are available), drop-in gallery talks, focused workshops and more. In addition to many tour options, there are dozens of museum programs, classroom ignition modules and activity challenges available, students have the opportunity to experience the world of automotive history and science. Within the AACA Museum is the Museum of Bus Transportation which gives visitors an insight into the history and evolution of bus transportation.

With exciting, hands-on exhibits and programs, the Da Vinci Science Center brings science to life. The Science Center promotes STEM, creativity and modern-day application of greatness embodied by Leonardo Da Vinci himself and the innovators who have succeeded him. Through active and engaging experiences including the “Physics Playground,” “Aquatic Adventures,” “Science in the Dark” and more, students will uncover interest in STEM-related career fields, advance fundamental skills and more. Hands-on workshops, live science shows and even special events such as Jack-O-Lantern Lane, Dino-Light and more make the Da Vinci Science Center the perfect place for students to get immersed in STEM and showcase their creativity.

​Situated on 11-acres between the high-thrills Hershey Park and the chocolate-making business of the Hershey Company, ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park originally opened as the Hershey Zoo with only twelve prairie dogs. ZooAmerica is now home to more than 200 animals and has been educating and entertaining guests for more than 100 years. Explore the wild of North America through one of the many outreach, group and tour programs; from animal encounters to on-site programs to behind-the-scenes tours and more, there are so many ways for students to experience ZooAmerica. ​

Universities and Academia

​As not only a leading research institution but also a top school for both engineering and business programs, Pennsylvania State University is known for so much. Penn State, as it’s also known, offers over 275 majors throughout 20 campuses. This impressive university also works towards creating a connection with its community through outreach programs. From the museums housed on campus including the Pasto Agricultural Museum, the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery to various camps (such as Science-U and the KidWind Challenge) held to the arboretum and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. Large groups can also reserve campus tours. Be sure to stop by the Berkey Creamery too.\

Industry & Technology

At the Autobahn Indoor Speedway, racers of all kinds will experience high-speeds and a state-of-the-art facility. Drive a high-performance, fast-paced vehicle in a safe, comfortable and fun environment. Give students a once-in-a-lifetime experience through STEM Academy at the Autobahn Indoor Speedway. Learn about subjects such as the history of racing, mathematics, racing terminology and more while still learning about racing and taking part in this high-thrill adventure. Through the STEM Academy, racers get a hands-on experience while enhancing their learning.

See, smell, create and taste your way through Hershey’s Chocolate World. See how the world-famous chocolate is made by embarking on a chocolate tour or help solve a mystery at the 4D Chocolate movie or even create your own chocolate bar through the workshop. There are a variety of tour options open to student groups including Make It, Tour It, Taste It and Little Taste. Each tour option is different and provides a unique experience for students.

Hersheypark, Credit Paul Ordoveza

​Originally created as a leisure grounds for the employees of Hershey’s Chocolate Factory, Hersheypark now welcomes guests from all around the world. With a wide variety of attractions and events year-round, Hersheypark offers a wide array of ways for visitors to explore the park. School groups can visit on their own or attend one of the six Education Days which feature subjects including STEM (Science, Math, Technology & Engineering), Business and Marketing, Health & Wellness and more. Check the website for more information about each of the six Education Days.

​Known as architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most widely acclaimed work, Fallingwater is the epitome of “organic architecture”. Originally created as a home for Edgar Kaufmann and his family, whom Frank Lloyd Wright had a shared affinity for new ideas and challenging boundaries, Fallingwater was later entrusted to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to preserve the home and the Bear Run valley surrounding it. Having opened to the public in 1964, Fallingwater welcomes more than 167,000 visitors per year including many student groups. Student groups are invited to learn about Frank Lloyd Wright and Fallingwater through an architecture tour, one of the many hands-on workshops or an exciting presentation. Teachers can also participate in the Teacher Residency Program where they spend a week at Fallingwater learning how to incorporate design and architecture into the classroom.

Nature/Outdoor Activities

Created as a private wolf rescue, the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania has grown into an educational facility that also serves as a home for over 40 wolves. With a variety of tour options (tours are only available by advanced booking) including weekday and weekend tours as well as photography tours and full moon events, visitors can learn about the packs, hear the wolves stories and even learn about wolf conservation and biology. The sanctuary itself is devoted to caring for displaced wolves and wolf-related species and assuring the most comfortable and stimulating environment.

Poconos Educational Environmental Center

Divided into six regions, the Pocono Mountains are a popular recreational travel destination located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Situated within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area of the Pocono Mountains, the Poconos Educational Environmental Center (PEEC) is one of the largest and longest-running residential environmental education centers in the northeastern United States. PEEC strives to advance environmental education, sustainable living and appreciation for nature through hands-on experience in a national park. With a wide variety of program options (including ecology and wildlife, natural history and environmental issues and more) for students from elementary through high school, students gain a holistic presentation of the natural world through single-day or multi-day (overnight) trips. It is recommended to book a trip to PEEC about three to six months