Carnegie Science Center Brings Interplanetary Activities for Kids to Chautauqua

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As Chautauquans prepare to gaze skyward during Week Four of the 2016 season, Carnegie Science Center will be providing more than just the telescopes.

As part of the week’s theme, “Our Search For Another Earth,” a seven-person contingent of scientists and educators from the Pittsburgh-based museum will be at Chautauqua Institution throughout the week. Using hands-on activities and a portable planetarium, the group will bring interplanetary science into Boys’ and Girls’ Club and Children’s School, in addition to several events that will also be open to the general public.

Associate Director of Education and Youth Services Matt Ewalt said Carnegie’s visit is part of a recurring partnership between Chautauqua and the center. Representatives from the museum usually arrive on the grounds in late August and provide additional programming support at Club and Children’s School, when counselors and teaching assistants must return to college.

“As valuable as Carnegie Science Center was to the youth experience on the grounds, there was a missed opportunity in terms of engaging more kids,” Ewalt said. “When we rolled out our 2016 themes, and Week Four of our summer season was devoted not only to science but to the future of space exploration, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to invite Carnegie Science Center.”

The first event of the week will be held at 4:30 p.m. Sunday on Bestor Plaza with a “Science in the Streets” festival that will include hands-on activities and a special focus on solar weather, the science of astronomy and why we explore space.

The Carnegie Science Center team will spend the early part of the week at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club and Children’s School, before hosting more events that will be open to the general public. Those include a “Skywatch” planetarium program scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday near Seaver Gym, along with a “Science in the Street” event at 5:30 p.m. Friday on Bestor Plaza.

Ewalt said there is a special focus on family events in Week Four, which extend beyond science programs. The festivities will include a screening of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at 9 p.m. Tuesday on Bestor Plaza and costume contest that night starting at 8 p.m.

Later in the week, the focus will be on getting teens involved, with special 10:45 p.m. Thursday screening of “Contact” and a 10:45 p.m. Friday screening of “Interstellar” at the Chautauqua Cinema.

“What I love is that ‘Contact’ is being played on the same day that Jill Tarter, for whom Carl Sagan based Jodie Foster’s character in the film, is speaking in the Amphitheater,” Ewalt said.

Because summer is a time of year when Carnegie Science Center attracts some of their largest crowds, Ewalt said the fact that a team of educators and scientists from the museum will be traveling to Chautauqua speaks volumes about their excitement.

“This is the peak of their summer programming in Pittsburgh and so they really bent over backwards to be here because of how excited they were,” he said. “They even geeked out about Star Wars in Bestor Plaza.”

Carnegie Science Center’s Chautauqua programming is sponsored in part by the Charles Edison Fund and Kathy and Jim Pender and the Michael Pender Memorial Fund of the Cleveland Foundation.

Austin Siegel

The author Austin Siegel

Austin Siegel is the recreation and youth reporter for The Chautauquan Daily. He is a journalism major at Northwestern University and a third-generation Chautauquan. Follow him on Twitter @AustinSiegel23.