About 12 miles south of downtown Pittsburgh, young students examine insect larva among the remains of a decomposing log, wade through a creek as they search for salamanders, and test water percolation in forest soils. At The Outdoor Classroom, situated in a 475-acre park, students participate in outdoor field trips where they gain opportunities to connect with the natural world—a new experience for many of these preschoolers and third- to seventh-grade students. The field-trip curricula, such as introductions to ecosystems or examinations of relationships in natural communities, are designed to reinforce the national curricula modules followed by many school districts. In addition to field-trip opportunities, The Outdoor Classroom also sponsors summer day camps and community education programs about topics that reinforce the connection between people and southwestern Pennsylvania's environment, such as backyard gardening.
Despite their determinedly of-the-moment sound, Redfoo and Sky Blu are carrying on a long pop lineage: the former is Motown founder Berry Gordy's son, the latter his grandson. As red-hot electropop duo LMFAO, the uncle-nephew pairing electrifies dance floors with manic odes to party life. The 2012 Sorry for Party Rocking tour explodes with fan favorites such as "Party Rock Anthem" and newer hits such as "Sexy and I Know It," which has a bouncy swagger that dominated the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 28 weeks. Meanwhile, the band parades in neon animal prints amid backup dancers, bobbing beneath giant robot heads, tossing inflatables into the crowd, and creating a spectacle Metro Weekly calls "enormously entertaining."
The culinary craftsmen at Dukes Station II tame appetites with a menu of classic American fare. Populate mouth-caves with a crispy basket of shrimp ($4.95) or a helping of jalapeño poppers ($4.95) for a hotter beginning than a phoenix’s 21st rebirthday. A lineup of more than 30 phalange-fillers includes the cheeseburger ($5.95); a half-rack of ribs ($12.95) meets the Constitution-mandated requirement to pronounce something as “finger-licking good” in order to be able to vote. Landlubbing entrees such as spaghetti and meatballs ($7.25) alternate with seafaring treats such as luscious crab cakes ($9.95), and individually sized pizzas come festooned in traditional cheese toppings ($3.95) or with a zesty taco flair ($4.50). Miniature masticators can indulge in kids’ menu items or steal peppermints from a neighbor’s pocket.
Canonsburg's Iceoplex at Southpointe isn't just a free-skating haven—it's the practice spot for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Participants can twirl and spin on the same surface as the Steel City's three-time Stanley Cup winners, building skating skills or simply body-checking casual acquaintances. In addition to the celebrated rink, a large sports arena hosts rousing matches of football, indoor soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, or basketball during league times or lessons. After working up an appetite, players can head to Jay's Sports Bar and Restaurant where a menu of classic American fare and drink specials fuels post-skating revelry.
In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes opened The Little Gym based on his new take on physical education. His curriculum emphasized motivating children to achieve instead of pressuring them to win. As a result, The Little Gym became a noncompetitive, positive, nurturing environment where young ones could develop physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. Since then, Little Gyms have sprouted up across the country. Enter Kevin and Page Helmick. Kevin and Page's passion for working with children stirred the duo to open their own Little Gym locations in Liberty Township and Mason. Parents of two young boys, Kevin and Page captain a talented staff of childcare professionals and instructors that is as passionate about childhood development as they are. The programs and classes they teach aim to help kids develop skills such as rhythm and coordination, and kids camps during winter, spring, and summer breaks prevent children from creating finger paintings that express the existential ennui they feel when school is out of session. The gym's classes, camps, and childcare programs have earned this location the Best Children's Play award from Cincinnati Family Magazine.