Museum Lab opens at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

This article was originally released on the WESA website.

The Museum Lab at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh celebrated its grand opening on Saturday, April 27.KATHLEEN J. DAVIS / 90.5 WESA

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh held a grand opening this past weekend for its new Museum Lab, a space that allows kids 10 and older to be hands-on with art, tech and shop tools. 

The Tech Lab in particular is flush with interactive technology that would pique the interest of any budding technologist.

On opening day, Tech Lab’s augmented reality chemistry game was one of the most popular among visitors. Players strap in with AR goggles and are shown skeleton hands layered on their own. They pluck virtual atoms out of the air to form different molecules.

CMU’s John Balash (right) demonstrates an augmented reality chemistry game for WESA’s Kathleen Davis.CREDIT RENEE ROSENSTEEL

“Augmented reality really attracts the kids and parents alike,” said Michael Kugler, an apprentice at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. “They’re really blown away with being able to see this virtual reality but still being able to interact with their surroundings.”

The team at the Entertainment Technology Center was largely responsible for choosing the programming inside the Tech Lab. The center’s director of educational engagement, John Balash, said kids are surrounded by technology in modern life, but might not think that deeply about it.

“So the goal is to show and expose the hard work that goes into that, so we can appreciate and also be knowlegable about the technology that’s really embedded in our lives,” Balash said.

The Tech Lab also features three interactive screens affixed to the wall. One tracks different points on a person’s face as they move or make different facial expressions. Another tracks hand movements so a person can play a virtual piano, and a third has a graphic that grows bigger and smaller depending on how loud the environment is.

There’s also a soundproof recording studio in the middle of the space for kids to experiment with interviewing, recording and audio engineering.

Middle schoolers from Manchester Academic Charter School will use Museum Lab’s second floor as classroom space, though Museum Lab itself is open to the public daily.

The Children’s Museum provides funding to WESA.

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    700 Technology Dr. Pittsburgh, PA. 15219