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Carnegie MuseumsMedia Kit

Carnegie Science Center recently received the nation’s highest honor for community outreach by a museum— proof that its many outreach programs are fun, educational, and among the country’s best.














Three reasons for educational success: (left to right) Aleina Smith, community affairs specialist; Ron Baillie, director of Education; Kenya Boswell, education coordinator.
Photo: Ric Evans








Reaching Out with Science

For middle-school children in at-risk neighborhoods, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. can be a scary time. Parents aren't home from work, the streets aren’t safe for playing a game of tag, and many schools are unable to provide after-school programming.

Carnegie Science Center saw in this problem a void it could help fill in its own backyard. Partner-ing with The Hill House in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, a team of four Science Center staff set up shop in a 1,500 square-foot space at one of The Hill’s House buildings and transformed it into a colorful science studio, calling it Mission Discovery. Today, Mission Discovery is a fun and educational stop for middle-school kids who wouldn’t otherwise have a safe place to go after school and might never have a chance to visit Carnegie Science Center.

“ We recognized we had an opportunity to make a significant impact in one of our local communities,” says Ron Baillie, director of Education for Carnegie Science Center, “and the best way to do that was to bring the Science Center into that community.”

Programs like Mission Discovery are the reason why Carnegie Science Center was named one of three recipients of the 2003 National Awards for Museum & Library Service, chosen by the Institute of Museum Services (IMLS). The IMLS is a federal grant-making agency with a presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed advisory board of 20 people representing the museum and library communities and the general public. It honors museums annually on the basis of their proven success in and commitment to community service.

In January 2004, representatives from the Science Center will travel to Washington, D.C., for the official award presentation. The prize includes a $10,000 grant, which will be used to further enhance the Science Center's outreach programs.

“ Carnegie Science Center is truly living our vision of service to the community,” says Ellsworth Brown, president of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. “Through its creative outreach, the Science Center staff, board, and volunteers continue to recognize need, break down barriers, and positively impact the region’s quality of life.”

Something for Everyone
Thirteen-year-old Mareena, a student enrolled in Mission Discovery, knows she’s getting a second dose of education at the after-school program, but she doesn’t mind. “Even though it’s a lot like school, we have more fun because we get to take care of animals and plants, go on field trips, cook, and do different science projects,” Mareena says.

(right) After school, children learn from mentors in Science in Your Neighborhood.

Making science education fun and turning kids of all ages into lifelong explorers is an integral part of the Science Center’s mission and, therefore, an integral part of its community outreach. Before its partnership with Hill House, however, the Science Center’s outreach programs weren’t reaching children in the middle-school grades.

“ Through our Science on the Road program, we help teach more than 250,000 elementary-school children a year through an array of school-assembly and classroom programs,” says Baillie. “Our Science in Your Neighborhood program is designed specifically to interest high-school students. And now, with Mission Discovery reaching middle-school children, we have something for everyone. Our goal is to create a set of learning opportunities using the Science Center’s resources that are designed for underserved students, beginning at preschool and extending through high school and even college.”

Science in Your Neighborhood is a program that turns high-school students into science mentors. Funded by the Eden Hall Foundation, the Alcoa Foundation’s Allegheny Works Initiative, and the DSF Charitable Foundation, it employs 30 high-school "Youth Explorers" and 20 middle-school apprentices who are trained to mentor kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods in after-school programs. The teenagers learn skills and receive assistance with professional development, career exploration, and college preparation, and the young children they teach learn from a role model that science, math, and technology are subjects they can have fun with.

Seventeen-year-old Maurice (pictured on the cover of this issue of CARNEGIE magazine) has been a Youth Explorer with the program since the summer of 2002. “It’s given me a lot of confidence and taught me how to take complicated subjects and make them easy to understand,” Maurice says. “Best of all, I get to work with kids my own age.”

No doubt the extensive reach and creativity of the Science Center’s many outreach programs—programs like Science in Your Neighborhood and Mission Discovery—made it a candidate for the IMLS award, the most prestigious in the museum industry. “The team at Carnegie Science Center is truly committed to increasing science literacy among all of Pittsburgh’s young people and increasing their opportunities for economic independence in adulthood,” says Dr. Robert S. Martin, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Joanna Haas, the new Henry Buhl, Jr., Director of Carnegie Science Center, notes that outreach is at the very core of what every non-profit organization should be doing. Carnegie Science Center, she says, does what’s expected—but does it exceptionally well.

“ What’s wonderful about the Science Center receiving this award is not the fact that we reach out to the community—it’s our job to do that,” Haas says. “What’s truly outstanding is that this award establishes us as a leader in what is most important about what we do, which is reaching out and integrating with the community and really making a difference in peoples’ lives.”

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