Wiggly worms and bugs, crazy chemistry, gooey polymers and fizzing Alka-Seltzer™ rockets—this is a mere sampling of the amazing science activities kids can explore free of charge during Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Super Science programs, which receives generous support from PPG Foundation and other funders.
Super Science began as a program based on four overarching science areas: Recycling, Wet & Wild, Inventors & Inventions and Machine Mania. Much growth and expansion has occurred since the early days of this program, with learners now delving more deeply into core science topics that influence kids’ everyday lives: robots, recycling & conservation, physics, bridges & engineering and river health & environmental awareness. These are just some of the topics that kids have the opportunity to explore at the Library and during outreach visits.
Since its inception, this program has grown in the best way possible, with children’s specialists regularly using Super Science lesson plans and kits to offer robust in-house and outreach library programming to kids across the city of Pittsburgh. New kits are being created and existing kits are being revised with fresh content and quality materials. These kits are being catalogued in the county-wide circulation system so that all Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA) libraries are able to request kits and have access to high quality science content that is ready to use. Libraries are able to host guest performers, local scientists, and science educators for special programs. All of this learning and program expansion is made possible by the ongoing and generous support of donors such as PPG Foundation. Over the past year, PPG Foundation funding has provided Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh with the opportunity to expand kits, create new content, invite guest performers, and reach more kids in our region by sharing the love of learning and scientific exploration.
Designed to inspire, excite and educate children and their grown-ups, Super Science programs are built on a strong foundation of inquiry-based learning and informal science education. By its very nature, Super Science programming encourages budding scientists to think outside the box, explore the world around them, make observations, and work through problems using critical thinking skills. Super Science programs foster a love of creativity and lifelong learning in a child-centered learning environment.
Super Science programs are offered year-round at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations throughout the city, where young learners have opportunities to participate in fun and interactive educational opportunities that strengthen their knowledge of scientific concepts. Recently at CLP – Squirrel Hill, we hosted an insects and bugs program, which was a great way to test out some potential activities and programming possibilities for a new kit which is currently being developed by a team of children’s specialists at the Library. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to observe a child using a magnifying glass to explore a giant bug for the very first time. One little girl was scrutinizing a cicada shell, clearly trying to make sense of this strange bug—she wanted to know its story. We talked about how cicadas are the really noisy summertime insect that generates a very distinctive sound at nighttime—most likely when you are trying to sleep! Right at that moment, you could just see the light bulb go off and the pieces clicked together. We were able to bridge a connection to her everyday life experiences, making science relatable, fun and part of her world.
Below is a collection of photos from a very vibrant year of Super Science programming in our library locations across Pittsburgh. Thank you, PPG Foundation, for giving children and their families a wonderful year of Super Science opportunities. We look forward to another year of growth, possibility and discovery while learning together at libraries and community settings throughout our city.
Rachel is a Children’s and Teen Librarian at CLP – Squirrel Hill. She loves listening to stories, yoga, tiny pumpkins and mermaids.