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Follow those Handprints

By M. A. Jackson

If you haven't brought your preschooler to Carnegie Science Center because you think he or she is too young to enjoy the exhibits, then it's time to check out the "Handprints" program. Handprints makes visiting the center with youngsters age 3 to 6 a snap because we've identified the age-appropriate exhibits--sure to inspire curiosity and engage the minds and hands of children--with "handprint" logos. Upon arrival, pick up the brochure, available at the information desk, which contains tips to make your visit more enjoyable and educational. The brochure even has projects to do at home.

"Since the opening of Exploration Station Jr. and the advent of the Handprints program, Carnegie Science Center has seen visits by moms with young children increase," says Mark Trumbull, director of marketing. "There are even play clubs that have formed among moms who bring their children here."

Here's a sampling of some Handprints exhibits:

* Components of Exploration Station Jr. include the Chick Hatchery, Construction Zone, Junior Lab, Water Table, and Ball Factory.

* The Buhl Planetarium's three short movies (each approximately 30 minutes long) about the Sun, Moon, galaxy, weather, and stars, as well as "The Sky Above Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

* Sure, the kids won't understand all the historical references at the Miniature Railroad & Village (that's for the adults!), but the trains, houses, hot air balloon, itty-bitty people, and amusement park will fascinate them.

* At Zap Jr. the kids can play doctor with toy stethoscopes and X-ray images.

* Let the kids stroke starfish and sea urchins in a touch tank, peer though "See Like a Fish" goggles, and climb aboard the Yellow Submarine at SeaScape.

In addition, there's a private Infant Care Room and access to free strollers. Handprints proves you're never too young to learn...or have fun.

New Store offers a Better Shopping Experience


What's more fun than visiting Carnegie Science Center? Shopping at Carnegie Science Center! Don't believe us? Then check out XPLOR Carnegie Science Center Store--our bigger and better store. Featuring a "research station" theme, XPLOR still has all the cool stuff you want--telescopes, USS Requin models, T-shirts, puzzles, books, minerals, plush toys, astronaut food, and robotics--as well as new interactive displays where you can touch objects, play with toys, and test run merchandise such as the microscopes.

Mark Leach, general retail manager of the Museum Stores, says while the old store was a "visual cacophony" with bad traffic flow, the $300,000 renovation has improved layout and increased floor space about ten percent. "It makes shopping as easy as possible for the visitor" says Leach. Richard Altuna, one of the top retail architects in the country (he did layout for the Pottery Barn stores), designed XPLOR with a girder and beam construction--in homage to Pittsburgh's steel heritage--and organized the store so, according to Leach, "it makes moresense." That means clear-cut sections for everything from math and chemistry to books and technology--and quicker checkout lines.

Since XPLOR opened in March, Leach reports sales are up. "More people are interested in coming in and we've established a better presence," he says. "It's playful inside." Best of all, the store is located next tothe front entrance so you don't have to pay museum admission if you just want to shop.  So stop by, there's something for everyone.

Neighborhood Programs  

In an effort to build relationships with under-served communities,Carnegie Science Center offers several programs that take science out of the Center and into Pittsburgh-area neighborhoods.

The closest community served is in the science center's backyard. The fifth annual North Side Neighborhood Day, a celebration for people of all ages who live or work on the North Side--but might not visit the center often--will be held this fall. Last year approximately 770 people attended the day of special performances, local exhibitors, hands-on activities, mascots, prizes, and food.

A more wide-ranging program is the nine-year-old Science in Your Neighborhood (SIYN)-formerly YouthAlive! Here, at-risk high school students attend two weeks of training (one week of professional development and another of activity training) and then get paid to teach hands-on science activities in after-school programs located in needy Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Thus, Carnegie Science assists young adults, elementary age students, and after-school programs. Talk about synergy!

This year, 15 students--or Youth Explorers--in grades 9-12 are participating. They teach hands-on math and science curriculum in churches, YMCAs, and schools. Each site averages about 50 students in kindergarten through grade five.

SIYN is the perfect win-win situation. The children learn from mentors they relate to, and the Youth Explorers earn money, learn job skills, and add to their resumes. They also receive a chance to participate in programs such as the Mid Atlantic YouthALIVE! Summit and the Microbe World Activities. Thirty Youth Explorers are lined up for the fall 2001 program.

A third endeavor, the seven-year-old Forging Through - Admissions Pass Program, is the science center's integrated effort to serve families in under-served communities by collaborating with neighborhood organizations. This partnership reaches more than 20 community groups--serving between 6,000-8,000 children and families--for classes, outreach, general admission, and professional development. In Parent

Previews, young mothers and/or fathers are provided information on meaningful cultural experiences for their children, and the Community Partners Hands-on Workshop Series presents staff members from community organizations with resources for their own programs.

If you are interested in learning more, call 412.237.3372 for SIYN and 412.237.3332 for the other programs.

Mars and its Rival

by John Radzilowicz

This summer Mars takes part in a competition with its perpetual “rival,” the star Antares. In order to appreciate the beautiful celestial show, it helps to know a little of the background.

The planet Mars takes its name from the Roman god of war. It received this designation because of its blood red color. Many other cultures used the same logic in naming this planet. This includes the Greeks, who named the planet for their war god, Ares. It was the Greeks who were also responsible for naming the star Antares.

Antares is a bright star in the constellation of Scorpius, the scorpion. In mythology, Antares is designated as the heart of the giant scorpion that killed Orion, the hunter.  In Greek, Antares can be translated as “rival of Mars” or a little less harshly, as “like Mars.” It’s easy to see why this star would have been given this name. It’s brightness and its orange-red color, usually make it appear very much like Mars. Chinese astronomers also made a very similar type of analogy. They called Mars the “fire planet” and their name for Antares was the “Great Fire.”

This summer it is easy for anyone looking toward the skies to make the comparison between Mars and its rival for themselves. That’s because these two bright objects are experiencing a close encounter.

Finding the pair is pretty easy. They can be spotted in the southern sky, about an hour after sunset. Both objects are relatively low in the sky. Measured from the horizon, their altitude is less than twice the width of your fist held at arm's length in front of you. Mars will be to the left and Antares on the right. Mars is especially bright this summer, making Antares a bit behind in the competition.




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