Photo by Bridget Feral

Inside Highmark SportsWorks new rope course

By: Victoria Stevans

Although summer maybe be winding down, the Carnegie Science Center is gearing up with new events, exhibits, and renovations that will take place throughout July, August, and – in some cases – into next year.

On Saturday, August 5, the Science Center is hosting a family-friendly Regatta SkyWatch at the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium & Observatory, allowing guests an up-close view of the night sky.

Once attendees arrive, they will be invited to experience a virtual tour of the stars. Afterwards, guests will be welcome to explore the planetarium’s programs, and if the night is clear, head up to the observatory to see some celestial bodies for themselves.

Those interested can come at 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. For non-members, SkyWatch will be an additional $4 to a general admission ticket; for members it is an additional $2.

On August 6, 27, and September 10, Science Center guests of all ages are invited to tour the USS Requin Submarine.

Entry on to the World War II vessel is already included with a general admission ticket; however, for an additional $15 for members and an extra $20 for non-members, guests can participate in an in-depth tech tour.

Going beyond what is able to be seen with general admission, guests on the USS Requin Submarine tour are welcome to look into unrestored compartments, step onto the conning tower and look through the periscope. Attendees will also be able to learn about the scientific and defense missions that the ship’s crew completed, some of which are still classified.

The tours take place from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. Full mobility is required.

On Monday, August 7, The Carnegie Science Center is hosting Café Scientifique.

Café Scientifique offers adults a down-to-earth environment to talk about science, explore new topics and ask experts their questions.

Next month, Jeff Schneider, an Engineering Lead at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, will be the expert highlighted at the event.

After a brief presentation on the future of urban mobility and autonomous vehicles, Schneider will take people’s questions and facilitate discussion.

Admission to the event is free, but registration is required. Attendees will be able to buy beer, wine, and sandwiches, making for a pub-like atmosphere. Doors open at 6 p.m. The talk will begin at 7 p.m. and last until 9 p.m.

A milk snake greets guests at the Field Station portion of the museum's H2Oh! exhibit. Photo credit Bridget Feral
A milk snake greets guests at the Field Station portion of the museum’s H2Oh! exhibit.
Photo credit Bridget Feral

On Monday, August 21, the first solar eclipse in 38 years over mainland United States will take place, and the Science Center invites guests to safely marvel at the rare event.

Although the eclipse will be full – the entirety of the New Moon will be blocking the Sun – from Oregon to South Carolina, Pittsburgh will be experiencing a partial eclipse – a portion of the Sun will not be covered by the New Moon – which still proves to be a very special phenomenon.

During the entirety of the partial solar eclipse, guests with a general admission ticket will be able to view the event through the Science Center’s special safe solar observation equipment, like their solar telescope, and participate in solar eclipse themed activities, crafts, and demonstrations.

Sunday, August 27, is Northside Neighbor Day at the Carnegie Science Center.

Prior to the event all Northside residents are eligible to pick up free tickets at the Science Center, and then on the last Sunday in August, Northsiders are free to spend the day – from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. – exploring all the museum has to offer.

All tickets will be general admission, and will allow Northside guests to experience the Science Center’s four floors of exhibits, Highmark SportsWorks, live demonstration shows, planetarium shows, and the USS Requin Submarine.

Along with the Science Center’s updated events, the space has also introduced two brand-new exhibits this summer: Body Works and the Ropes Challenge.

Body Works, an exhibit that explores the human body and how it functions, has found its home on the center’s third floor. Guests can participate in activities that will illuminate the inner workings of themselves and answer questions like: How long are my intestines? How do my bones move? Or, how do my white blood cells protect me?

Moving through the different parts of your body – the bones, lungs, heart, etc.—the exhibit culminates in an interactive room devoted to the nervous system, allowing guests to explore how their brains perceive the five senses.

Body Works also features the Body Stage where live shows are presented throughout the day on topics ranging from anatomy to cooking.

This June, the Science Center also opened The Ropes Challenge, an exhibit in Highmark SportWorks.

Included in general admission, the Ropes Challenge invites guests of all ages to complete the single-level course’s 11 components, which involves walking a rope bridge, balancing on a rolling log, climbing across a horizontal net, riding on a zipline, and much more.

Underneath the elevated Ropes Challenge, visitors less than 48 inches tall can enjoy the SkyTykes ropes course that sits closer to the ground.

Guests completing either course will be able to experience a full-body immersive experience and ruminate on the ways physics – the properties of balance, center of mass and inertia – and physiology –the perception of thrills and height-induced butterflies – impacted their run of the obstacles.

Aside from new exhibits and events, the Science Center is also undergoing significant structural changes throughout this summer and into next year.

On June 28, 2017, the Science Center was gifted the largest donation in its history, $7.5 million from PPG and the PGG Foundation.

In turn, the Center plans to construct a four floor PPG Science Pavilion as a continuation of its SPARK! Campaign which has already raised $45.9 million for several projects that advocate for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and programming.

Complete with 6,000 square feet of Learning Labs, the Pavilion will greatly expand the Science Center’s capacity to provide STEM education to future generations of creative thinkers, as well as professional development courses for prospective STEM educators.

The PPG Pavilion’s first and second floors will become the Scaife Exhibit Galleries, which will support exhibits too large for the Science Center’s current space, as well as exhibits from the Center’s sister museums: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and The Andy Warhol Museum.

Children play with blue building blocks in the Exploration Station exhibit. Photo credit Bridget Feral
Children play with blue building blocks in the Exploration Station exhibit.
Photo credit Bridget Feral

The first exhibit to take place in the 14,000 square foot Special Exhibition Gallery will be “The Art of Brick” by artist Nathan Sawaya, who will use LEGOS bricks to construct art pieces. Sawaya’s work, which will be constructed especially for the Science Center, is set to be on display from June through December 2018.

The Pavilion will also include a multi-purpose space on its fourth floor for conventions, events, private rentals, and educational programs.

The existing Rangos Omnimax Theater will also be updated in this expansion. Although the big screen will be changing shape, becoming a flat screen rather than a dome, it will still be the largest in Pittsburgh. With these augmentations, the Ominmax will be able to show a wider range of films, adding Hollywood blockbusters to their marquee, along with their typical educational documentaries.

All renovations are slated to be completed by June of 2018.

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