The SARCOS Animatronic requires a complex computer system and a score
of electronic parts to make him come to life and provide a colorful
overview of the Robotics exhibition.
Carnegie Science Center’s traveling exhibits
have touched the lives of thousands across the country. But how many of
those people realize the time and effort that goes into the creation of
“People call them
‘shows,’ but they're so much more,” says Tom Flaherty, Director of Exhibits
The Science Center’s
three traveling shows--ZAP! Surgery Beyond the Cutting Edge, Robotics, and ZING! (a.k.a. Science
Carnival!)--began innocently enough--with a pitch. Robotics and ZAP! were suggested by former
Science Center Director Seddon Bennington in 1995 as a “way to showcase how
Pittsburgh is a leader in various technologies,” says Flaherty. That simple idea started a very
complicated ball rolling.
It takes anywhere
from 20 to 24 months and a core team of about 12 people--including members
of the Science Center’s Education, Marketing, and Design departments--to
create each exhibit.
initial brainstorming sessions, research, and a search for help from
outside contractors and agencies such as Carnegie Mellon University,
Universal Technologies, and American Robotics, who all participated in Robotics, and funding through
foundations and grants. Concept development meetings are held with advisors
such as teachers, parents, and Science Center members, and Information packets are created for the
renters, explaining how to operate, maintain, and advertise the
exhibit. There are suggestions for
exhibited-related activities for teachers. The exhibit prototypes are
tested on the Science Center’s floor to ensure the user-friendliness of
every component of the display.
work is as important as design and fabrication," says Flaherty.
And there’s another
huge consideration--how will the exhibit be moved? “It is a real challenge
because of the logistics of it all,” says Flaherty. “Robotics’ 6,000 pound ABB arm had to be specially suited with a
metal base to distribute the weight so it wouldn’t fall through floors. We
don't want to exclude any science center, so we must really think about
where the exhibit will go.”
The Science Center's
work doesn’t end once an exhibit is rented. Staff members assist with setup
and training at every new venue, and return if problems arise. In addition,
the exhibit returns to Pittsburgh every 18 months for refurbishment.
"Our goal is to keep the exhibit working 100 percent of the
time," says Flaherty.
This attention to
detail pays off. "Robotics has been a blockbuster
everywhere it's gone," says Flaherty. "And the Edmonton science
center [Odyssium] called ZAP!
‘one of the best thought out, maintained, and best quality exhibits’ it’s
In all, thousands have enjoyed the Science Center’s
three traveling exhibits. Completed in 1996, Robotics has been operating for more than seven years and is
scheduled for three more. It has been to 13 science centers--from Space
Center Houston to Science World in Vancouver. ZAP!, which opened at the Great Lakes Science Center in 2000,
has been to four facilities. ZING!,
a smaller exhibit based on physics principles and completed in 1998, has
been to the Space Center Houston and currently resides at Catawba Science
Museum, North Carolina.
These exhibits are
good for the Science Center, good for Pittsburgh and good for the
audience,” says Flaherty. “It's a win, win, win situation.”
Awards for Excellence
Pittsburgh abounds with people who are improving lives
and society at large on a daily basis. On April 30, Carnegie Science Center
honored a few of those individuals at its seventh annual Awards for
Awards for Excellence was created to recognize
professionals and students who have made notable discoveries and
breakthroughs in science and technology around Southwestern Pennsylvania.
The awardees, who represent companies, schools, and
universities, are nominated by industry peers and selected by a panel of
professionals--including past winners--from related fields.
The 2003 Awards for Excellence winners are:
Elementary: Mary L. Bertsch, Trinity Area School
District. For lessons filled with hands-on activities that motivate
students into taking part in the learning process.
Middle Level: Ed Mihalacki, Hempfield Area School
District. For transforming former mechanical drawing classrooms into
fully-equipped science and technology computer labs.
High School: Regis P. Joseph, Alternative Center for
Education. For an innovative and proactive approach to the Earth science
University/Post-Secondary: Joseph J. Grabowski, Ph.D.,
University of Pittsburgh. For developing a Web site that involves students
with innovative learning experiences.
Alan J. Russell, Ph.D., McGowan Institute for
Regenerative Medicine. For bringing an understanding of regenerative
medicine to audiences around the world.
Alfred A. Kuehn, Ph.D., Management Science Associates,
Inc. For building the concept of describing consumer and business behavior
with mathematical models.
Manufacturing & Materials
Ming Li, Ph.D., Alcoa Technical Center. For development
of a new process for using aluminum in the automotive industry that has
made a substantial economic and societal impact.
Ronald B. Herberman, M.D., University of Pittsburgh
Cancer Institute (UPCI). For his
work in bringing UPCI to the national forefront in cancer prevention,
diagnosis, and treatment.
Robert S. Hedin, Ph.D., Iron Oxide Recovery, Inc., For
developing a technology to treat acid mine drainage resulting in a patented
by-product--EnvIronOxide--that can be sold to pigment producers to make
earth tone pigments in commonly-used products.
Asim Smailagic, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University. For
research that led to the development of applications for wearable
computers, mobile computing, and pervasive computing which has helped
enhance human performance, increase productivity, and create a safer
Bayer Corporation. For being a catalyst in providing
education, employment, and innovation in science and technology for the
Presenting sponsors for the awards were: Kennametal
Inc.–Markos I. Tambakeras (Event Chair), Alcoa Foundation, Bombardier
Transportation, Dollar Bank,
Eaton’s Cutler-Hammer Business, Fisher Scientific, Mirage Advertising, Pittsburgh Business Times, PITTSBURGH
Magazine/WQED Multimedia, PPG Industries Foundation, Sony Technology
Center-Pittsburgh, Ten United, Westinghouse Electric Company.
ON TAP @ CARNEGIE SCIENCE CENTER wc 133
It’s an untapped market: young professionals interested
in supporting philanthropic causes. But Carnegie Science Center has found a
fun way to get them involved--the appropriately titled "Island
Adventure," On Tap@Carnegie Science Center. The sixth annual
fundraiser, benefiting the Science Center’s many quality endeavors, will be
held 7 p.m. to midnight, Friday, June 6, at the science center.
The under-40 crowd is invited to kick off the summer
social season at the event that features a screening of Coral Reef Adventure at the Rangos
OMNIMAX Theater. Approximately 1,400 people are expected to attend.
Tickets are $35 if purchased in advance or $40 if
purchased on or after May 30. Attendees will receive beer vouchers,
enjoy unlimited soft drinks and hors d’eouvres and plenty of live
music. Tickets may be purchased
online at CarnegieScienceCenter.org, by phone at 412.237.1816 or by fax
Into the Earth’s Shadow
John G. Radzilowicz
The month of May brings us the first of two total
eclipses of the Moon that will be visible from North America this year. The
second will be in November. That’s a very nice treat indeed, but it’s not
unheard of. In fact, eclipses of the Moon are far easier to observe than
their more dramatic counterparts, the solar eclipses. That’s because, for a
given location – like Pittsburgh, lunar eclipses will happen on average at
least once every 2-3 years. That’s quite a bit better than the average time
between total solar eclipses for one spot on the Earth’s surface. That
comes out to about once every 300 years!
During this eclipse, the Moon will slide into the shadow
of the Earth late on Thursday, May 15th, and emerge in the early
morning of Friday, May 16th. The show will start shortly after
10:00 pm. Maximum eclipse – when the Moon is most deeply inside Earth’s
shadow – will occur at 11:40 pm local time. And the event will wrap up at
1:17 am Friday morning.
What can you expect to see? Well, this is a “shallow
eclipse”. That means that the Moon will not pass through the middle of
Earth’s shadow, but close to the edge instead. Under such circumstances you
can usually expect quite a bit of the Sun’s light to pass through Earth’s
atmosphere and onto the face of the Moon. So, the Moon won’t be completely
dark. Instead, you can look for colors from brown to red to orange to
The exact colors of this eclipse will depend on many
factors related to our atmosphere such as cloud cover, pollution, or even
volcanic ash. The varying color of a total lunar eclipse is one of the
things that make it wonderful to watch! No two ever seem to be exactly the