Connecting with Community | Hands-On Science Showdown

How can your next conference or event connect with the Pittsburgh community?

Diet Coke and Mentos sprayed into the air. Giant purple hands waved and clapped. Students clamored to board what looked like the Fortnite Battle Bus to learn science.

Does this sound like your average field trip? Read on to see how Pittsburgh can be the perfect match of bringing your organization and the community together for a truly one-of-a-kind event.

How It Happened

The average conference usually has attendees all centered around one or two key venues, with limited opportunities to interact with the public. Enter the Hands-On Science Showdown, an event which broke down barriers between conference attendees and the Pittsburgh public, all in the name of science.

With more than 1,400 science and technology museum professionals in Pittsburgh for the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) annual conference, conference organizers wanted a way to reach out to the community. By teaming up with local museums Carnegie Science Center and Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, the three organized this first ever event and collaborated with other local museums and science organizations, invited Pittsburgh public school students and worked with the media to help get the word out.

Hands-On Science Showdown Showcases Community Involvement

The final event was a unique marriage of science organizations from around the country and local organizations which spanned the entirety of our iconic Rachel Carson Bridge to bring STEAM learning to Pittsburgh grade schoolers.

Interactive STEAM activities lined the bridge where students could take apart and put back together electronic toys, do screen printing with The Andy Warhol Museum or use their own kinetic energy to blast bubbles across the pathways. Live demonstrations rotated throughout the event with Moonshot Museum blasting off with a Mentos-fueled bottle launch and Pittsburgh Glass Center showing their fiery creative process. Performances by Squonk kept the creative energy flowing with rocking music and gigantic puppeteered hands that had students dancing in the streets.

The community was also invited to attend, enticed by a huge row of food trucks at the other end of the bridge. There was no charge for attendees.

Your Next Conference

When planning events, meetings and conferences in Pittsburgh, consider how these gatherings might leave a lasting impact with the local community.

This trend of partnering with community is growing fast. In 2022 alone, Pittsburgh has seen the the West Penn Park – Polish Hill playground build which kicked off the Municipal Leadership Summit, an Anthrocon block party which partnered with Downtown businesses and the Hands-On Science Showdown, among others.

Need help? Contact MeetPITTSBURGH today to be matched with a local non-profit that aligns with your mission or learn how your group can incorporate the Pittsburgh community into your next meeting or event.