Harrisburg, PA – Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty today visited the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts to tour its PNC Innovation Zone. The PNC Innovation Zone encompasses the new Purposeful Gaming Studio and Select Medical Digital Cinema in a space that engages youth in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
“At the state level, we work each day to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to fun, engaging, and high-quality learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom, and the PNC Innovation Zone is a great example of businesses teaming up to provide experiential learning opportunities to their communities,” said Acting Secretary Hagarty.
The PNC Innovation Zone addresses gender and equity barriers and bridges the digital divide for underserved and underrepresented youth. Programs include after-school learning, Girls in STEM, Emerging Healthcare Professionals: Science of Surgery Camp, Surgery Live!, and Innovation 101.
“Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts was founded more than 20 years ago by a group of extraordinary community and business leaders whose vision was to bring science and the arts together under one roof,” said Whitaker Center CEO, Ted Black. “Purposeful Gaming at the PNC Innovation Zone is a natural extension of our founders’ visionary leadership. By leveraging the popularity of video games and esports to stimulate interest in STEAM activities such as coding, graphic design and computer networking, PNC Innovation Zone will break down gender and equity barriers to technology and, ultimately, inspire the digital leaders of tomorrow through the science, art, and technology of purposeful gaming.”
With more than 90% of children playing video games and the explosive growth of esports worldwide, Whitaker Center and its partners saw an opportunity to offer students and their families a space to reconnect, share passions for gaming and esports and learn about coding, art, and the technology embedded in video games. The PNC Innovation Zone hosts weekly activities, led by certified educators, for youth ages eight and older.
The PNC Innovation Zone complements efforts at the state level to engage students in STEM education. During the past seven years, the Wolf Administration has secured $40 million for career and technical education and has invested $116 million in science, computer science and technical education, including $80 million in the innovative PAsmart program and $36 million in apprenticeships and workforce training.
Since 2015, the Wolf Administration has increased education funding by more than $3.7 billion. In his most recent budget, Governor Tom Wolf solidified his commitment to education at all levels with a historic $1.8 billion investment increase.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website. Follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Pinterest.
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PA Department of Education Highlights STEM Programming at Whitaker Center's PNC Innovation Zone – Pennsylvania Pressroom