Frequently Asked Questions


Group Size

Is there a minimum size requirement for group rates?
Minimum group size is 15 people. This includes children age 3 and up, parents and teachers. The minimum applies to all group visits including special theme days such as ChemFest, SciTech Days, StormFest, and National Engineers Week.

What if I do not have the minimum number for the group rate?
Groups with less than 15 may opt to pay for the minimum requirement of 15 tickets or cancel their group visit and purchase general admission tickets.

What happens if my attendance falls below the minimum requirement?
On the day of the visit, if your attendance is less than 15 people you will be required to pay for 15 tickets or cancel your group reservation and purchase general admission tickets.

Pre-reservation

Do I need a reservation to receive the group rates?
Yes. The only way to receive the group rates is to call in advance and make a reservation. We recommend calling at least 2 weeks before your visit date. Groups who arrive without a reservation will pay the current general admission rates.

What is considered an “advance reservation”?
An advance reservation is a reservation that is made at least 2 weeks before the visit date. We are unable to accept special program requests for demonstrations or special tours for reservations made with fewer than 2 weeks notice. Also, reservations made with fewer than 2 weeks notice require payment in full at time of registration. Demonstration and planetarium shows are booked only Monday through Friday.

When should I call to reserve my visit(s)?
Reservation staff is available Monday–Friday from 9 am–5 pm. We are happy to assist you with booking as many visit dates as you may need for the year. We recommend calling as far in advance as possible to ensure program availability. At minimum, call at least 2 weeks prior to your visit date. If calling with fewer than 2 weeks notice you will be required to pre-pay for your visit at the time of booking. Please note our busiest reservation time is February–May. In the event that you receive our voice mail, please leave a message and we will return your call.

Can I reserve my field trip(s) online?
Reservations are not available online, but feel free to complete our visit request inquiry form and we will contact you to complete the details and verify your visit information. If you are interested in reserving more than one day, please complete a visit request inquiry for each day you plan to visit.

How many chaperones do I need?
PreK–1: 1 adult per 5 students
Grades 2–12: 1 adult per 10 students
Additional adults are welcome to attend and will be admitted at the group rates available on the pricing page as “Additional Adults”. A reservationist will provide you with a breakdown of fees for students, required adults and additional adults when booking.

What information will I need to provide for a reservation?
Please provide the reservationist with the following information:

  • Date of visit – We recommend having at least one alternative date incase your preferred date is unavailable.
  • Arrival and departure time- Approximate arrival/departure times are acceptable.
  • Estimated # of adults (include teachers and parents)
  • Estimated # of students
  • Lunch plans – Bringing bag lunches, purchasing from the café, eating offsite
  • Special needs
  • Let us know if you have visited in the past – We can look at your past visits and schedule your group for similar programs if you'd like.

When can we arrive/depart?
During weekdays from Labor Day through June 15, groups may arrive as early as 9 am. Please let us know if you plan to arrive between 9 and 10 am so that we will have staff ready to greet you.

During weekends and weekdays from June 16–August 31, groups can arrive as early as 10 am.
Carnegie Science Center is open Sunday through Friday until 5 pm, and on Saturdays until 7 pm. Groups are welcome to stay until we close, or you may choose to depart earlier in the day. Please provide our reservations staff with your approximate departure time so we may manage traffic flow through the pick-up/drop-off area.

How do I find out what programs are available?
Explore this entire section of our website or our Field Trip Planner publication to learn about various demonstrations, Omnimax movies, or Buhl Digital Planetarium programs. Call our reservation staff to check availability of the programs you are interested in. With advance notice, we can schedule programs for your group.

What can I schedule for?
With advance notice, our reservation staff can schedule Omnimax movies, Buhl Digital Planetarium programs, and demonstrations into your day. All programs and times are subject to availability so call well in advance to reserve your visit. Demonstrations and planetarium shows are only available Monday through Friday.

Is there a dress code?
Carnegie Science Center and Highmark SportsWorks® have many activities and exhibitions that require some degree of physical participation. We strongly recommend comfortable, casual attire with sensible shoes.

Are membership cards accepted for group visits?
No. Membership cards are not applicable to group visits. Because we offer special discounts to groups, membership privileges cannot be applied. Members attending with a group should be included with the group attendance. Members attending with the group will be admitted at the group rate. This will ensure that everyone in your group is admitted into all programs that you have reserved.

Lunch

What are my lunch options?
You may choose to bring your own lunches, purchase from our RiverView Café, or order your lunches from the café in advance. To view menu options online visit our Group Dining page. If you are not planning to have lunch at Carnegie Science Center, please inform our reservation staff that you will be eating offsite.

Can I schedule my lunch time in advance?

No, lunch times are not available in advance. All lunches for all groups are scheduled and assigned on the day of the visit. Our Group Services staff will provide your lunch time during your orientation.

I need to create an itinerary for my chaperones to follow. Can I get a lunch time in advance?
Lunch times are not available in advance. Please do not schedule your own lunch times; we may not be able to accommodate you at the time(s) you selected. If you are creating itineraries for your chaperones to follow, we recommend entering: Lunch time(s) to be assigned by Science Center staff during orientation.

Payment

Do you accept purchase orders?
No. Carnegie Science Center does not accept purchase orders for group visits. Payment for your visit is due on the day of your visit. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or a check made payable to Carnegie Institute.

Do I have to pre-pay?
If you have made your reservation with at least 2 weeks advance notice, you do not need to pre-pay. However, deposits are required in advance for special tours such as Heinz Field and Gateway Clipper packages.

Do I have to pay a deposit?
If your reservation includes a special tour such as Heinz Field or the Gateway Clipper, a deposit is required and will be noted in your confirmation email/letter. Deposits for special tours are due 2 weeks prior to the event.

How do I pay for my visit?
On the day of your visit, provide our cashier with your final attendance and one of the following forms of payment: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, check (made payable to Carnegie Institute), or cash (in denominations closest to the balance due). Small bills ($1s & $5s) will not be accepted at the window; please convert small bills to larger denominations prior to your visit.

Can you bill me?
No. The balance due for group visits is due on the day of the visit. Payment must be submitted in full.

What forms of payment do you accept?
We will accept one form of payment for the group:

  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • American Express
  • Check (made payable to Carnegie Institute)
  • Cash (in denominations closed to the balance due)
    Note: Small bills ($1's & $5's) will not be accepted at the window; please convert small bills to larger denominations prior to your visit.

Are individual payments accepted at the group window?
No. Individual payments are not accepted at the window. Individuals who are not included in your group count will not receive the group rate. Individuals will be instructed to go to the Ticket Counter on the first floor to purchase general admission tickets. Omnimax tickets are additional. Please note that the ticket counter opens at 10 am. If your group is scheduled with an early arrival, those not included with your count will not be admitted until they have checked in at the Ticket Counter. Individuals not included in your group attendance are not guaranteed admittance into programs or seated at lunch with the group.

Can you send me an invoice prior to my visit?
We can not send invoices for group visits. However, your visit contract contains all the information that you should need to request payment from your finance office.

I have a pre-made check and our attendance has decreased. Will I get a refund?
Carnegie Science Center will issue a refund so long as the group attendance has not fallen below our minimum required attendance, which is 15 people. If the refund is less than $40, the cashier will provide you with a cash refund and receipt; you will have to sign for the cash. If the refund is more than $40, a refund check will be sent by mail. Refund checks may take 6 – 8 weeks to process during our busy season. Please provide our cashier with instruction to whom the check should be sent if different than the contact/address information on the check.

Post-reservation

How do I cancel or change the date of my visit?
Call 412.237.3400, then press 7, to cancel or change the date of your visit. Reservation staff is available Monday–Friday. If inclement weather causes a delay or cancellation of school, please contact us to cancel or reschedule your visit.

How do I know my visit is confirmed?
You will receive an email confirmation containing a visit contract. Make updates to the confirmation and return a copy at least 2 weeks prior to your visit. Once you have signed and returned your visit contract, your visit is considered confirmed.

Why are you emailing confirmations now?
Our confirmation materials are now available in PDF format and can be sent electronically to you. You no longer have to wait for it to come by postal service. After your reservation is complete and entered into our system, you will receive an email (at the address you provide) containing a PDF of your contract. Your confirmation will arrive by email several weeks prior to your visit date. You may print the visit contract, make your updates, and fax or mail a signed copy back to us. If you have a scanner, feel free to send your signed copy back to us electronically.

Where do I send my signed visit contract?
Fax: 412.237.3375
Mail: Carnegie Science Center
Attention: Call Center
One Allegheny Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

If you have a scanner, make your updates and save as your school name, and reply to the original email you received from our customer service agent. The attachment should be a PDF or JPG.

Pre-Visit

How do I change my attendance?
Changes to attendance can be made on the visit contract which you will receive by email prior to your visit. Please update changes at least 2 weeks prior to your visit. If you have changes within two weeks of your visit date, you can provide the final attendance on the day of the visit. Our cashier will take your final attendance on the day of the visit; however we can not guarantee program availability if your attendance increases.

What are ID tags?
ID tags should be some form of sticker, label, T-shirt or lanyard that identifies the name of your group. For the safety and security of your group, we ask that you only have the GROUP NAME, not individual names. Abbreviations are also acceptable if your group name is more than 2–3 words. Groups do not receive wristbands for admission. The ID tags serve as the admission ticket.

Who do I contact to confirm our box lunches or café vouchers?
Call the RiverView Café at 412.237.3422.

Can I pre-order Omnimax concessions?
Absolutely! When you preorder concessions, snacks are ready for you when you arrive and there's no waiting in the concessions line. No one in your group is left out if they forgot pocket money. Best of all, preordered concessions are a great deal. Click here for more information.

Should I call to confirm my visit?
If you have received your visit contract and returned a signed copy by mail, fax, or email, then there is no need to call to confirm. If you have not returned a signed copy of your visit contract, feel free to call us to confirm that we still have you reserved.

Parking

Where do we park our bus?
Included in your confirmation materials you will find our bus parking map. Please provide this to your driver prior to your visit. Not only will it show where parking is available for buses, but it also includes instructions for accessing our drop-off and pick-up location. Our Group Services staff will talk with the bus driver upon arrival to provide direction where to park the bus.

Is there a fee for bus parking?
No. Parking for school buses and coach buses is complimentary.

Our group is coming by personal vehicles (cars, trucks, vans, SUV). Do we pay to park? Will we still get an orientation?
Yes. Parking for personal vehicles is $5 per vehicle. When coming by personal vehicles, you should enter Carnegie Science Center parking lot and park before coming to the Group Services area. We do not do orientations for personal vehicles. If your group is scheduled for an early arrival (between 9 and 10 am) you can access the Group Services area from the parking lot by the stairs next to Highmark SportsWorks® from the main lot OR park behind the building and use the sidewalk to the Main Building. You will see a sign on the Main Building directing you to the Group Services area. Once your group is all together, our staff will provide you with an orientation. Please note: Orientations are only available on weekdays.

Day of Visit

Where do I go to check in?
Check-in is located on the ground floor of Carnegie Science Center in the Group Reception area. Included in your confirmation materials is a parking map, which will provide direction for accessing the Group Reception area.

What should I expect when I arrive on the day of my visit?
Upon arrival (Monday through Friday) you will receive a short orientation on your bus. The group leader will check in with our cashier. Make sure your group members have their ID tags on prior to entering the building. Please provide your final attendance for adults and children. Our cashier will provide you with your receipt and group tickets for any timed programs. If you are bringing in bag lunches, our staff will direct you to your storage space and provide you with a scheduled lunch time. After orientation and check-in, you are free to explore the areas that you have reserved.

What do we do with our bag lunches?
Pack your bag lunches in boxes or coolers with your group name. We will provide you with a storage space to stow lunches while you are exploring. Please note: The storage area is not refrigerated, so plan accordingly.

What information do I need to provide for check in?
During check-in, it is very important to have the final number of adults and children in your group. This will be the first question our cashier will ask. The cashier will review your reservation and provide your group tickets for scheduled programs. It is very important to know the exact number of adults and children in your group.

Can I add demonstrations, programs, or the USS Requin on the day of our visit?
For the best selection and to ensure availability for everyone in your group, we recommend reserving demonstrations at least 2 weeks prior to your visit. We will do our best to accommodate same day requests, but you will be limited to shows and times scheduled for that day. Add-on fees apply to the Buhl Digital Planetarium, Laser Shows, and the Rangos Omnimax Theater. Payment for these must be submitted on the day of the visit.