Science Center exhibit features bicyclesPublished Aug 7, 2013 at 5:26 am (Updated Aug 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm)
The Bowden Spacelander (1960) was designed at the height of the ‘Space Race.’ Made of fiberglass with a built-in headlight, it is a rare collector’s item today.
The Penny-Farthing (1885) had pedals attached to the front wheel, which allowed riders to go faster, but these bikes were dangerous.
Ellie Farbman stands next to the UDC Mini Bike.
“BIKES: Science on Two Wheels” is a new exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center that showcases the evolution of the bicycle and the science behind it. Sadly, it is more of an art gallery than an educational experience.
Both old and new bikes appear, from the monstrosity known as the Penny-Farthing to a vehicle combined from three bikes built in 2011. The exhibit features classic bikes, sport bikes, offshoots and unusual bikes, including a multi-rider adult tricycle built in 1898 that allowed riders to sit next to one another and carry on a conversation, and the Garden Bike, a steel-framed bike built in 2001 and wrapped in bamboo.
Though the Science Center directs its focus on children, the exhibit would appeal more to adults – they will relive nostalgic memories from their childhood of their own bicycles. Kids will most likely be disappointed in the old bikes.
In general, there is too much reading involved in the exhibit for kids with short attention spans. The Science Center always has hands-on stations that demonstrate how the scientific elements in the exhibit work. To their credit, these are scattered throughout the exhibit, but they are few and far between.
Fortunately, there are special events about bikes that will be shown at the BIKES Plaza, a canopy located on the Riverfront Trail outside the Science Center. Although the actual exhibit may be disappointing, the various events offer extra content to keep those in attendance interested.
Jeremy Farbman is a freshman at Mt. Lebanon High School.
On select Saturdays through September, the Carnegie Science Center will spotlight a special bike-related outdoor activity along the riverfront trail as part of “BIKES: Science on Two Wheels.” Activities, free with general admission, run from noon-2 p.m. (unless otherwise noted) and include:
• Aug. 10 – Elite cycling coach Chris Mayhew will introduce visitors to the sport of Cyclocross and demonstrate skills used by cyclocross riders. He will also discuss training, clothing and safety. Champion mountain bike trails rider Mike Steidley will also perform jaw-dropping feats of balance and cycling mastery as he maneuvers through a custom set of obstacles and ramps.
• Aug. 17 – I Made It Market, noon-5 p.m., featuring local artisans who specialize in bicycle-themed art and accessories.
• Aug. 24 – Fiks: Reflective, a local producer of reflective clothing and stickers, will be on hand to demonstrate how reflective materials make cyclists more visible at night. Bring your own bicycle helmet to decorate with reflective stickers.
• Aug. 31 – Pittsburgh Citiparks Roving Art Cart: transform plain paper into art with pedal power and create a masterpiece with a bicycle-powered Spin Art machine.
• Sept. 7 – Nic Brungo, owner of Love Bikes, a bicycle shop in Lawrenceville, produces hand-built bamboo bicycle frames. A partially-built bamboo bike will be on display while Brungo discusses the procedure of building the bike and the natural strength and flexibility of bamboo as a building material.
• Sept. 14 – BMX Show
• Sept. 21 – I Made It Market, noon-5 p.m., featuring local artisans who specialize in bicycle-themed art and accessories.
• Sept. 28 – Pittsburgh Citiparks Roving Art Cart: transform plain paper into art with pedal power and create a masterpiece with a bicycle-powered Spin Art machine.
• Oct. 13 – 3-2-1 Ride
For more information, visit www.carnegiesciencecenter.org.