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Carnegie MuseumsMedia Kit


Exhibits and programs encourage kids
to pursue
science and reach their dreams.












“The Buhl inspired me, but there are so many things to inspire your dreams. Study hard and you’ll be able to reach your dreams.”

- NASA Astronaut
Mike Fincke



Lauryn Williams, a native of Beaver County, Pa., won a silver medal in the Summer 2004 Olympics.
Carnegie Science Center: Changing Lives

More than 900 local students participated in a a question-and-answer session at Carnegie Science Center with
Astronaut Mike Fincke who is currently aboard the International Space Station. 

Downlink from International Space Station Inspires Students

Emsworth native and NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke performed more than a couple of amazing feats when he spoke from the International Space Station to 900 Pittsburgh students watching him from Carnegie Science Center on September 22, 2004.
In a short 20-minute downlink from the International Space Station, Fincke managed to:

  • Keep 900 students totally silent and fascinated.
  • Turn somersaults in space and jump to catch in his mouth M&M’s® that had floated out of a bag.
  • Get just about every child and adult in the theaters dreaming about being an astronaut.

Fincke, 37, and fellow Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, talked with—and took questions from—students from 17 local schools, including Fincke’s alma mater of Sewickley Academy. The students watched and listened to the astronauts on large screens in the Science Center’s three theaters.

Fincke told his audience that it was his trips as a child to the Buhl Planetarium that made him want to be an astronaut. “The Buhl inspired me, but there are so many things to inspire your dreams,” Fincke said. “Study hard and you’ll be able to reach your dreams. Never give up on your dreams.”

John Radzilowicz, Carnegie Science Center’s director of visitor experience, says the entire downlink experience was exciting. “This is the kind of thing where you can see the long-term impact of the Buhl Planetarium and Carnegie Science Center. Mike made a career choice in life based on what he had seen at the Buhl as a child, and we suspect one of the children in the audience on September 22nd will do the same,” he says.

Fincke and Padalka are the ninth crew to serve on the International Space Station. Officers rotate every six months. Fincke earned two bachelor’s degrees related to aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as two master’s degrees, one from Stanford University and the other from the University of Houston.

In response to the students’ questions, Fincke and Padalka explained that their days are busy, filled with working on scientific experiments and maintaining the space station. Each day also includes about two-and-a-half hours of exercise to reduce the accelerated bone-mass loss that occurs in space.

When asked if things are harder or easier to do in space, Fincke said “easier,” and then proceeded to flip around in a somersault with a gentle nudge from Padalka. “The tough thing is to eat these in space,” Fincke said, holding open a bag of M&M’s®, which slowly floated up into the air. While weightlessness is like flying, Fincke said it takes time to get “your space legs” and just as long to walk again normally once you land on Earth.

The Buhl Foundation and NASA’s Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium provided generous support to upgrade satellite equipment and make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity available to area schools free of charge. NASA provided the downlink at no charge.

Howard Bruschi, chairman of the Carnegie Science Center board, summed up the excitement of the event when he told the children before the presentation began: “Who knows, maybe 10 to 20 years from now one of you in the audience may be calling us from Mars or the Moon!”

Olympic Sprinter Honed Her Winning Spirit at Carnegie Science Center

In interviews with journalists across the country, Lauryn Williams, a native of Rochester, Beaver County, credited an exhibit at Carnegie Science Center with instilling in her a love of running. It was a trip there in 1992 when Williams discovered the interactive display of former Olympic sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner. The image of Griffith-Joyner appears on a long video board, and a track next to the screen allows runners to run alongside her image and compare their speeds for fun. (A similar exhibit now resides permanently in UPMC SportsWorks.)

According to interviews with Williams in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Runner’s World magazine, and the Washington Post, when Williams was a very young girl she tried the exhibit early in the morning—and then kept at it for hours until she actually beat Flo-Jo’s time on the screen.

When Williams won the silver medal in the 100-meters final in the Summer 2004 Olympic Games, she credited the Science Center for the role it played in her running career. Williams, a 2001 Rochester Area High School graduate, has been called the most successful high school sprinter in Pennsylvania history.


Polar Express
Pulls Into Carnegie Science Center
Visitors are enjoying Polar Express, one of the new movie features showing at Carnegie Science Center's Rangos Omnimax® Theater. The movie tells the story of a young boy who wakes up to find outside his door a Polar Express train on its way to the North Pole. The Time-Warner movie, which stars Tom Hanks, is based on the children's book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg.

Upcoming Polar Express Programs
Everyone loves the holidays, and now there is reason to love them even more...families can play at Carnegie Science Center all day and stay all night for Polar Express Overnighters on November 20, December 4, and December 17. And, on December 5, catch the Breakfast Express celebration. Beginning at 9 a.m., enjoy breakfast, storytime, a showing of The Polar Express OMNIMAX® film and a VIP tour of the Miniature Railroad and Village® holiday display.

Brought to you by The Grable Foundation.


Two Traditions that Continue to be New:

Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and
The Miniature Railroad & Village®

Many people from the Pittsburgh region remember their annual trek during the holiday season to enjoy the Miniature Railroad & Village display at “the old” Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science on the North Side. This visit was often combined with a stop inside the planetarium to gaze up at one of its spectacular sky shows.

Today, the Miniature Railroad & Village exhibit and star-gazing continue at Carnegie Science Center in greatly expanded forms, and both are “a result of the wonderful legacy of the Buhl Foundation and the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science,” says Patty Rogers, the Science Center's coordinator of historic exhibits.

Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium Has Been Inspiring Minds for 65 Years
Henry Buhl Jr. created the Buhl Foundation as a memorial to his wife in 1927. Twelve years later in 1939, the foundation opened the Buhl Planetarium on the North Side —as a gift to the City of Pittsburgh. The Foundation continued to support the Buhl through the decades, and in 1982 the facility was renamed The Buhl Science Center and began to operate independently. In 1987, the Buhl merged with Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh though it remained in its original North Side facility until Carnegie Science Center opened in 1991. This year, the Planetarium marks its 65th year in continuous operation.

Doreen Boyce, Buhl Foundation president, says today's Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory has evolved with new technology. "Carnegie Science Center continues to attract young people with exciting, innovative exhibits. At the Planetarium, the very latest probes into the universe shape the programs that we create with state-of-the-art technology.

“ These programs were once specific to Buhl Planetarium but are now translated into 14 languages and exported to 18 nations across the globe,” Boyce says. Our own two Pittsburgh astronauts began at the Buhl Planetarium! So the original mission—to influence generations of children and to awaken them to the wonders of the scientific world—continues.”

Sixty-five years later, the Buhl Foundation is still an integral part of Carnegie Science Center and its operations. In 2002, the Foundation gave $3 million—the largest single gift in its history—to endow the Science Center’s director position, which is known as the Henry Buhl, Jr., Director chair. It has also funded a number of Science Center projects, including two popular Buhl Planetarium shows, The New Cosmos and The Sky Above Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

The Miniature Railroad & Village Celebrates 50 Years of Replicating History
The Miniature Railroad & Village is an ever-changing exhibit that continues to amaze and surprise visitors, many of whom have been fans since childhood.

This year, in celebration of the railroad's 50th anniversary, there are special changes and additions. One of the quaintest is the addition of the Ebenezer Baptist Church replica—complete with a bell tower made out of wood from the original church, which burned to the ground on March 13, 2004. The church, which stood on Wylie Avenue, had been a mainstay of Pittsburgh’s African-American community since shortly after the Civil War. It also played a role in the national civil rights movement, including hosting a National Urban League annual conference in 1932 and a visit by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Other new items nestled in the display include a replica of an early glass factory, and a copy of the original H. J. Heinz pickle factory on a barge. In 1904, the birthplace of the Heinz pickle empire was uprooted from its location in Sharpsburg, set upon a barge, and floated down the Allegheny River to the company's North Side factory.

Replicas of Teddy Roosevelt's campaign train and whistle stop stations have also been added, plus a new entrance to the Miniature Railroad & Village exhibit itself. Gone is the turnstile and in its place is a whole new scene recreating an old-time railroad depot. Union Switch & Signal donated a railroad crossing light for the entrance, and the Hazelwood-based company is also the sponsor of a new interactive exhibit about railroads, located on the outside bay walls of the railroad exhibit.

The Miniature Railroad & Village had its maiden run for the Pittsburgh public in December 1954. It attracted 23,885 visitors during its one-month debut and has been delighting visitors ever since. "I know a lot of people visited the railroad when they were young but some may not have seen it in years. We want to try to get everyone back here this year for our celebration," Rogers says.


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Copyright (c) 2004 CARNEGIE magazine. All rights reserved.