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New Director Wants To Ensure The Carnegie Science Center Is For Everyone

Andrea Pekelnicky
Courtesy of Carnegie Science Center
Visitors to the Carnegie Science Center's Mummies of the World exhibit get a glimpse into past cultures through April 19.


On today's program: The Carnegie Science Center names one of its own as permanent director; the broadband industry is in no hurry to fix PA’s rural internet problem; one advisor counsels patience after a shaky week for U.S. markets; and how Super Tuesday shapes the way Pittsburghers get to vote. 

Credit Carnegie Science Center
Carnegie Science Center
Jason C. Brown is the Henry Buhl, Jr. director of Carnegie Science Center.

  Can the Carnegie Science Center help fill the STEM opportunity gap?
(00:00 — 12:23)

After more than a year at the helm, Jason C. Brown has been named the permanent director of the Carnegie Science Center. The long-time classroom educator says that making the formerly interim relationship official will help him explore big questions about the center’s future and how to get more people in the door.

"One of the fundamental problems that we're seeing with education is there's such a push for content," he says. "When students spend 12 years as passive learners, and then we put them into the workforce where they're forced to be active participants and thinkers and problem solvers, it's sort of a disconnect and they are not as prepared as they could be going forward." 

When done well, STEM education moves beyond just memorizing the tenants behind science, technology, engineering and math, Brown says, and encourages to develop the skills they'll need to understand complex ideas.

“It’s critical thinking, it’s problem solving, it’s artistic expression of your ideas," he says. "It’s teamwork and collaboration. It’s analytical skills and looking at evidence.”

Projects like the Mobile Fab Lab, a van outfitted with 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutters, a Shop Bot and more, could serve as an equalizer for underserved kids who can't afford to come to the center person or don't have anyone to bring them in regularly. Brown says patrons can also expect more regular programming like the recent Mummies of the World exhibit, which departs April 19.

Brown first joined the Carnegie Science Center in 2014, focusing on STEM, education, science communication and the engineering-design process. He's served as interim director since former co-directors Ron Baillie and Ann Metzger retired in December 2018. 

Rural Pennsylvania has an internet problem
(13:44 — 18:57)

In huge swaths of the rural U.S., neither the government nor the broadband internet industry has shown any urgency to expand high-speed access.

But as Keystone Crossroads’ Min Xian reports, that’s prompted a rag-tag group of D-I-Y-ers in rural Huntingdon County to come up with their own solution.

Is it too late for Pittsburghers to buy in to a shaky market?
(19:00 — 24:31)

U.S. markets dipped dramatically in recent days, scaring some investors and inspiring others. As always, Jayme Meredith, senior vice president with Pittsburgh-based Hefren-Tillotson, advises a diverse portfolio. He says long-term investors shouldn’t panic.

“If you’ve got a lot of different-colored crayons in your crayon box, you’re going to be OK,” he says,  adding that the market is trying to interpret news about the coronavirus and interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve in real time. “We’re thinking six months, all of this will be behind us and we’ll be worried about the election.”

Folks who’ve made riskier bets could consider pulling back. That might mean not reinvesting dividends and taking that interest in cash instead, to avoid having to share any shares. But if you’re young with many more years in the market, Meredith says, take advantage of the sale.

Super Tuesday’s effect on PA primary prospects
(24:39 — 29:42)

Pennsylvania’s primary is still eight weeks away, but there are lessons to be gleaned from a wild week in national politics. What impact do the results from Super Tuesday have on Pennsylvania?

WESA political editor Chris Potter says the turnaround from candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden is noteworthy. Biden, who announced his bid for President in Pittsburgh last April, won the support of 11 county officials representing Western Pennsylvania this week. 

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont remain in the race. Neither have visits to Pittsburgh on the books, but Potter says anyone still on the ballot will likely show by early April. The message will depend on the candidate, Potter says: “Revolution versus let’s-just-get-back-to-where-we-were-five-years-ago, before Donald Trump became the President.”

Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg, who’d been expected in Pittsburgh later this week, dropped out of the race shortly after today’s broadcast. President Trump is scheduled to appear in Scranton on Thursday.

90.5 WESA’s Caroline Bourque contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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