By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two schools in West Philadelphia are getting a boost from the Exelon Foundation and PECO, the electric utility, to develop more customized “STEM”-related courses.

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A $500,000 grant to nearby Drexel University will support the development of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses at the Morton McMichael School, at 36th Street and Fairmount Avenue, and the Samuel Powel School, eight blocks away on North 36th Street, just above Powelton Ave.

The goal of the grant is to “enrich the school day,” according to Tina Richardson, associate dean of the School of Education at Drexel University.

“We partnered with the (University City) Science Center, taking the students to the center to learn about DNA and conduct science experiments that far exceed the resources that are located in the schools,” she said today.

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The K-8 students at the McMichael Schools and the K-4 students at Powell are also visiting the Franklin Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Philadelphia Zoo.

And Richardson says, programs such as the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program are sending representatives to show how math and the arts are often intertwined (converting, one might say, STEM to STEAM).

“So a student who says, ‘I don’t like math, I’m not good in math, but I like art,’ they see how those two things connect,” she said.

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