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New BodyTech initiative brings medical education to young audiences

Emily Stimmel
May22/ 2015

Pittsburgh has long been at the forefront of cutting-edge medical care, research and education. And in a ground-breaking new initiative announced this week, the Carnegie Science Center and the Allegheny Health Network have joined forces to make these health sciences accessible to even the youngest audiences.

The joint initiative–called BodyTech–is a “a dynamic, three-pronged health and science education program” that will add a new exhibit and a traveling science show to the Science Center’s existing programs, including the BodyStage live demonstration theater.

The new BodyWorks exhibit will find its home on the Science Center’s third floor adjacent to BodyStage, where it will teach scientific concepts through hands-on, interactive experiences. The exhibit will shine a spotlight on four major body systems—cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal and nervous. Content throughout BodyWorks will emphasize medical technology, healthcare careers, health and safety–often through a local lens. The exhibit is slated to open late next summer.

Anatomy Adventure, a new offshoot of the Science Center’s Science on the Road outreach program, is an assembly program set to launch this fall. Seen through the “eyes” of a miniature robotic probe, Anatomy Adventures is something akin to The Magic School Bus, taking children on a voyage through the bloodstream to learn about human body systems. Kids also explore the workings of various organs, systems and body parts through live demonstrations. Other topics run the gamut from nutrition and fitness to cutting-edge technology including cryogenics and lasers. The assemblies will showcase local medical experts and encourage students to pursue careers in STEM fields.

BodyStage–the third component of the BodyTech initiative–replaced the Science Center’s Kitchen Theater in 2014. Shows in this live demonstration theater explore themes related to health and medicine, including nutrition, anatomy and technology. Clever titles like “Tasty Tidbits” and “It’s Alimentary, Watson!” make the material accessible for broad audiences of all ages, who will enjoy interacting with science by handling a 5-pound block of “fat” and exploring MRI images, among other immersive science experiences. Both BodyWorks and BodyStage programming are designed for wide appeal while conforming to the Next Generation Science Standards for specific grade levels.

BodyTech was conceptualized by a team comprised of Science Center staff and health professionals from AHN, including some physician leaders. AHN also financially backed the program, serving as its presenting sponsor. Representatives of both organizations are excited about the partnership and its potential for the Pittsburgh region and STEM fields. “BodyTech is a wonderful example of two organizations deeply committed to the health and vitality of our region coming together to invest in its future,” says John Paul, president and CEO of AHN.

Featured photo: Carnegie Science Center’s Mike Hennessy giving a preview of Anatomy Adventure, Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center

Emily Stimmel

Emily fell in love with the written word as a teenager, when she published zines and wrote for her school paper. Today, she is a freelance writer with a decade and a half of experience in non-profit communications. She enjoys cooking, reading, crafting and exploring Pittsburgh with her husband and two sons.