Pittsburgh Zone 1 police officers took students from Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS) to see mummies at the Carnegie Science Center as part of a new community outreach program.
Photo: Pittsburgh Zone 1 police officers join students from MACS to check out the “Mummies of the World” exhibit on view at the Carnegie Science Center through April 19. By Janine Faust
By Janine Faust
Seeing shrunken heads and mummified bodies can be a daunting experience, so it helps to have someone around whose job is to protect you.
Three Pittsburgh Zone 1 police officers accompanied 16 Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS) students at the “Mummies of the World” exhibition on Feb. 8 as part of a new community outreach program started by the Carnegie Science Center. The exhibit, which features 40 human and animal mummies, is running through April 19 at the Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore.
For about an hour that afternoon, students and officers crowded around shrouded bodies in each room while Science Center staffers explained how flesh decomposes, how mummification was performed in different cultures, and what people could learn from mummified bodies.
Most students reacted with a mixture of horror and fascination. Third-grader Elijah Cunningham summed up what most of his peers thought in a few words.
“Disgusting but interesting,” he said. “Terrifying, but in a good way.”
Connie George, the Science Center’s senior director of marketing and community relations, explained that the Science Center is providing tickets for the exhibit to different City police zones so they can bring children from their communities to the center. Zone 1 was the first to participate.
“We wanted to start with them because that’s our neighborhood, so we’re able to… help the kids become more familiar with something that’s in their own neighborhood,” George said.
Pamela Watson, the food service director at MACS, said Zone 1 has an informal relationship with the school and that activities like this help its students learn to trust their local police.
“This type of thing lets kids relax, see that [the officers] are human beings too, that they have families, children,” she said.
Sgt. Tiffany Costa said interacting with children in their community is beneficial for officers’ mental health.
“Police officers deal with so much trauma and tragedy every day, doing something like this with a group of kids, it’s different, seeing them somewhere where they’re full of joy and awe and learning,” she said.