Even though the Carnegie Science Center has been around since 1939, I don’t remember science being this cool when I was a kid.
Located right across the street from Heinz Field, the home of my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers, and also right on the water, the Carnegie Science Center is in a great location and has put in some really awesome exhibits.
We started out at the back of the center, which is where they have a real post-WWII submarine anchored in the river.
It was smaller than I expected, but looked really beautiful sitting on the water.
As we climbed onto the top of the ship, we got a great view of Point State Park and the city of Pittsburgh.
Viv and her Pop-Pop walked along the top of the shop before we all got to climb down inside.
The USS Requin was in service from 1945-1968 during the Cold War. It housed 80 men and was used primarily for defense and scientific missions. We learned that some of the things it worked on are still classified today so this was a pretty important ship!
As you would imagine, space is at a premium onboard. The stairs are pretty steep and the passageways between the different areas of the ship are tight, so if you’re claustrophobic or challenged in terms of your mobility, this will be a challenge. You can read our full review here.
Once you climb down into the ship, you get a real and authentic sense of how the sailors lived. Here’s the galley kitchen where the meals were prepared for all 80 soldiers except for the captain – he had his own space. This kitchen is less than half the size of our kitchen at home – and I only cook for five people.
We’re in Pittsburgh so it’s no surprise what kinds of canned goods are on board this sub.
The kids thought the dining area was awesome. They’re sitting at a table designed for six men and they take up almost the whole thing. I had to explain to the kids what the jukebox was on the wall behind them and how it worked. They’re so used to iPods and streaming and it was fascinating for them.
This was also where they played games (as evidenced by the checkerboard) and even enjoyed movies in the same space. Again, I had to explain to the kids exactly what this particular contraption was.
We moved into the sleeping area and all of us were shocked at how tiny the bunk space was. Three beds stacked right on top of one another. If you sat up quickly in the middle of the night, the knot on your forehead would be something awful.
But in their own way, they forecasted the current tiny house movement and used every available space on the sub for storage. The area under the mattress is where the soldiers stored their belongings.
I loved looking at the authentic personal belongings of the sailors. It made me wonder who they were and what they were thinking about as they lived in such close quarters together on this ship for months at a time.
The bathrooms were at the far end of the ship, just past the beds. One toilet, three sinks, and three showers. For 80 guys. It’s hard to imagine.
Once we exited the ship, it was time to grab a quick bite to eat in the Science Center cafeteria, then see some more exhibits. Our next stop was the SportsWorks complex, which is adjacent to the Science Center. You do have to go outside to get there. Outside SportsWorks, they have a cute little play area for the kids. Vivi found it fun to see how far her voice could travel and if she could hear me back through the pipe.
While we played, we admired the home of the Steelers, just across the parking lot. Ah, Heinz Field.
But back to the Carnegie Science Center. Inside the complex is an array of fascinating and fun things for kids – and adults to try and do to measure their physical and athletic abilities.
This cool baseball exhibit let people swing a bat and get the speed of the swing and the distance that the ball would have gone. Inside the pen, there was an interactive image of PNC Park, where the Pirates play, and the graphic of the ball would land in the image where it would have landed in real life.
There was a giant hockey game modeled after the small scale ones that kids play. It’s all fun and games until the kids can’t find where to put the metal puck in the sides of the plastic enclosure and instead throw it over the top – and sometimes way too close to other people.
While the big kids waited in line for the ropes course (which he eventually got out of because it was taking too much time away from other exhibits)
and testing their arm strength on this pulley/jumping apparatus,
Vivi played with a huge, life-sized version of the game “Operation.” Not gonna lie – this was may favorite part of the whole building. I could have played with this all afternoon.
Back inside, we headed up to a different floor to see a huge exhibit on weather. There were tons of fun things to do from a water table to how a raindrop forms and falls. But the one the boys enjoyed most was the one where they got to pretend to be weatherpeople broadcasting on the forecast on television.
Up one more floor was a huge model train exhibit. My train-loving boys were in heaven. The layout was so creative, with all four seasons represented and various eras of Pittsburgh.
A replica of Forbes Field gave my father a chance to give his grandkids a lesson in Pittsburgh Pirates history.
There’s always a river somewhere in any depiction of Pittsburgh.
And even a replica of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater home, which is located a little more than an hour from the city.
There was a whole area of the display dedicated to Luna Park, which was around from 1905-1909. It predates Kennywood, which we’ve also posted about.
This gate served as the model for the one that is at the entrance of the Lost Kennywood area of the amusement park.
We finished up our tour of the Science Center with a little more science and Vivi enjoying spinning and twirling things.
All three kids – and all three adults – really enjoyed the Carnegie Science Center. I was really pleasantly surprised by how much they’ve changed over the years to keep it fresh and fun for all of us. Click on the review below for a look at our full review of the Carnegie Science Center to get a sense of their accessibility for people with special needs.