New Science Center exhibit comes with Boeing test pilots and engineers to spark STEM career interest | St. Louis Public Radio

New Science Center exhibit comes with Boeing test pilots and engineers to spark STEM career interest

Jan 28, 2016

A new interactive exhibit is opening at the Saint Louis Science Center called “Above and Beyond.” It explores the science of flight and what innovations are happening today that are shaping the future of aerospace.

“This exhibit is extremely immersive,” said Christian Greer, chief education and programs officer with the Saint Louis Science Center. “It involves a lot of technology interactives that allow people to use touch screens and to even build a jet aircraft and test fly it in the facility, so it will be a great opportunity for people to learn what it’s like to be both an engineer and a pilot.”

John Tougas and Christian Greer visited "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss "Above and Beyond," a new exhibit at Saint Louis Science Center.
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The exhibit is 5,000 sq. feet and opens Friday, the second stop on a five-year tour of the exhibition. It opens with help from Boeing, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. John Tougas, an experimental test pilot with Boeing, joined Greer on “St. Louis on the Air,” to discuss the collaboration.

“The whole idea is to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) to the younger generation and, frankly, to look for my replacement who is ten or 12 years old right now,” Tougas said. “If he or she walks in there, gets hands-on, gets a memory imprinted permanently and gets fired up about a career in STEM. That’s the whole point.”

This exhibit is unique in that Boeing engineers and test pilots, like Tougas, will be walking around the exhibit interacting with people, helping them learn to design a plane and fly it.

“We feel for the St. Louis region that we want to put it on our shoulders as the science center and give people open access to STEM, to connect it to popular culture, to integrate the arts and give them exhibits like Above and Beyond, as a place to test out skills,” Greer said. “To learn the process skills of science and dream about challenges they want to solve.”

Listen to Greer explain some of the features of the exhibit and what visitors will learn:

In the spirit of helping people learn more about STEM careers (and the sheer coolness of having an experimental test pilot with over 4,300 hours of cockpit experience in our studio), we pulled Tougas aside after the radio interview to learn a little bit more about his job. Here’s what we found out:

“Above and Beyond” will run simultaneously with a new Omnimax feature called “Living in the Age of Airplanes,” which was filmed in 18 countries across 7 continents and details how the airplane has profoundly changed the world. A “St. Louis on the Air” segment will be aired at a later date on the subject.

Related Event

What: "Above and Beyond" at the Saint Louis Science Center
When: January 29 - May 8, 2016
Where: Saint Louis Science Center, 5050 Oakland Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110
More information.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.