Forget the old guy in the bow tie… there’s a new younger version, and he’s right here in Pittsburgh. City Charter High School senior Logan Brown had audiences wowed, laughing and learning as a presenter in the Freeze show at the Carnegie Science Center’s Works Theater. And what an accomplishment it was.
From L to R: Amanda Iwaniec, Logan Brown and Emily Anderson show off “What’s all that stuff in me?”, one of many Body Works exhibits on the 3rd floor of the Carnegie Science Center.
It was part of Logan’s internship experience. This requirement for all City High students worked out perfectly for this aspiring and self-described “STEM guy.” Armed with the skills he learned at the Science Center and his 3.7 GPA, Logan plans on a career in science and technology after finishing his degree at Robert Morris, IUP or Penn State. Best of all, this bright and personable science geek plans to do it all in Pittsburgh after college.
“My personal favorite thing about City High is that a lot of it is tech based… this is especially important nowadays as we are moving more and more toward technology in our world.”
But it all started at City High. “I think it’s a great school.” He says, “My personal favorite thing about City High is that a lot of it is tech based… this is especially important nowadays as we are moving more and more toward technology in our world.”
As the third in his family to attend this urban high school, Logan describes his internship as the perfect fit: “When I discussed my internship with the City High Internship Manager, she instantly thought “Science Center” because I am a very sociable person. I love talking about science, I love learning about science, technology and everything like that. So, it just sort of fit with my interests. It fit with the way I am as a person.”
Working with liquid nitrogen and a live audience
A natural presenter, Logan immediately blended right in. He earned 139 hours while learning to prepare and present theater shows. It was exciting and fun for this intern. Spending most of his time in the Body Stage and Works Theaters, Logan became proficient at presenting the Freeze show, captivating the children in the audience with scientific demonstrations.
That’s not to say he didn’t have to work to become a presenter. According to his mentor, Amanda Iwaniec who is the technical and educational manager of the demonstration theaters, “Right away, I knew Logan was a very strong candidate in his social aspect. He knew a lot of science and how things work. He’s very intelligent. He had a clear understanding of what his skillsets were. A lot of his experience was in communicating with his contemporaries. He was fine to give a presentation to a bunch of his classmates; that was easy.” But she asks. “Okay, now you have a room full of adults who know more than you, how are you going to engage them? Or how are you going to engage a bunch of little kids who maybe don’t get your sense of humor or don’t understand what you’re explaining?” Logan’s ability to communicate science to everyone was something that he was able to grow.
Logan loved the experience. “For me it was an interesting thing, because I was learning all the science behind it before I was the person sitting there dipping things in liquid nitrogen, pouring liquid nitrogen, and stuff like that. I wrote down what I was going to say throughout the whole show.” He also got great coaching from Amanda, Kevin, Emily and Christina. “So it wasn’t just one mentor, it was actually 4,” he points out. “They would check up on me frequently. Asking how I was doing. Asking how my script was going. How my last show went. I knew them; they knew me. It was great. Great people and great personalities to work with.”
Logan is not the first intern at the Carnegie Science Center and not even the first to perform in the theaters. Ms. Iwaniec admits, “Typically we do not teach the liquid nitrogen show to high school interns because in addition to performing the show, you’re handling liquid nitrogen which is negative 321 degrees, so you have to have a certain maturity level. A few City High interns have done shows, but he’s definitely one of the top City High interns that have been given this opportunity to do this kind of next-tier show. Freeze is the upper tier of programs that we do.”
Logan remembers one performance in particular, “I once had a show of almost 80 people by myself and I was perfectly fine. They [his mentors] really ease you into everything. They don’t just throw you in too fast.”
Internships are all about taking skillsets to the next level. And Logan admits, “I’ve always been very good with large crowds. I’ve done shows and productions for musicals. This is my 3rd year doing musicals out of four. So, I’m used to theater… just not used science theater. It was uncomfortable at first, but over time, that discomfort went away. My presentation skills have gotten better. They [his Science Center mentors] critiqued me on areas I needed to work on and I improved on them. So, presenting-wise, I excelled. I also improved on quality control. My internship taught me to ask a lot of questions. If you make sure you know something, then afterwards, you’re good.”
These are perfect skills for the “next-gen science guy”.
To learn more about City High’s technology infused high school please visit www.cityhigh.org
About the Carnegie Museum Science Center
Carnegie Science Center is well known to the Pittsburgh community for providing interactive experiences in science and technology that delight, educate and inspire participants. In addition to being the region’s leading family-centered destination for fun and learning, the Carnegie Science Center also aims to excite and inspire boys and girls to explore careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). So it is fitting the Center would collaborate with City Charter High School.
Logan Brown smiling, recalls the first few days of his internship; where they gave him time to “play” and get to know the Science Center. Ironically as a big STEM guy raised in Pittsburgh, Logan had been “playing” at the Carnegie Science Center all of his life. From L to R: Amanda Iwaniec, Education Coordinator at the Carnegie Science Center and City Charter High School senior, Logan Brown.
According to Amanda Iwaniec, Education Coordinator, “We do have a robust volunteer program where we accept students as young as 14… bringing them on in the summer and mostly weekends. With the teenage program and with the City High intern program, it’s our job to help them achieve whatever goals they want to. Sometimes, it’s as basic as learning how to show up on time.”
When interns start, they learn all of the behind-the-scenes stuff, like how to set up the shows, like cutting fruit and measuring our chemicals (once their trained.) They may open doors and welcome guests, answer basic questions, or make announcements on the PA system, but they are more behind the scenes.
Amanda explains, “A lot of times our volunteers and interns want to learn more, so the shows are a great avenue for that. We will actually partner them up with a staff person and they will learn how to be on stage and present a show to an audience. One of the misconceptions is that, ‘Oh, I’ve given a presentation in school, I could totally do a show.’ When you’re live, on stage, you have to anticipate questions the visitors are going to have. Are they standing on stools and being unsafe? Are they shouting out and being disruptive? Are you so smart that no one is getting anything because you’re talking up here and they are down here? It’s a lot of thinking on your feet. And a lot of adjusting the way you do things to maximize your audience involvement.”
She adds, “What’s really nice about the museum in general is that a lot of our employees don’t have science degrees (they’re either in history, or theater or education – some STEM career folks). So it’s nice because our general public has a very general understanding of science. So, by having a wide variety of employees, we can really relate and help to educate those people. We even have volunteers who go all the way up to retirement age. We have retired electrical engineers, and retired teachers and retired pretty much everything. We have a human resources specialist who’s retired and volunteers her time and does science experiments. So, you really can learn and be able to communicate science easily if you’re passionate about it. That’s usually the big characteristic – you have to be passionate… about people and science and then you are really successful.”
Logan Brown, City High’s most recent intern at the Carnegie Science Center performed in the Works Theater. This industrial-themed space with working foundry, a cryogenics stage and a main stage is mostly for chemistry, physics and engineering programming. There is also a 100-year old Tesla coil that is fired off. George Kaufman, a local Pittsburgh kid from the Ben Avon neighborhood, built the Tesla coil over a hundred years ago. He went on to earn more than 100 patents as chief electrical engineer at J & L Steel after he graduated from Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon).
This high voltage show is a very dramatic way to inspire visitors. As Amanda says, “Look at what this kid did over 100 years ago. It’s still here. What can you do if you put your mind to it?”
To learn more about interactive experiences in science and technology visit the Carnegie Science Center at www.carnegiesciencecenter.org
In the FREEZE Works Theater at the Carnegie Science Center. Front: Intern Logan Brown from City Charter High School, from L to R back row: Amanda Iwaniec, Education Coordinator at the Carnegie Science Center, and mentors Kevin Eagan and Emily Anderson