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RiverQuest to stay afloat, keep focus on STEM programs

Natasha Lindstrom
| Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, 7:24 p.m.
RiverQuest, a floating science classroom that area students use to study the rivers, leaves its dock on the North Shore on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
RiverQuest, a floating science classroom that area students use to study the rivers, leaves its dock on the North Shore on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.

Back on course after floundering financially, the 90-foot floating science lab that docks outside Carnegie Science Center will return to cruise Pittsburgh's rivers this fall with expanded educational and recreational offerings.

Rivers of Steel Heritage Corp. President and CEO August Carlino announced Wednesday that his board has completed the acquisition of RiverQuest, a nonprofit that's provided river-based education to more than 100,000 students over two decades.

The acquisition comes two years after Rivers of Steel announced it was pursuing a merger or arrangement to sustain RiverQuest's assets and service to the region.

“The end result is the preservation of a world-class environmental science, technology, engineering and mathematics program on what many consider one of the most advanced green energy boats in the nation,” said Carlino, who initiated merger talks after reading about RiverQuest's April 2104 dire straits in the Tribune-Review.

New programs will build on RiverQuest's focus on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — by adding an “H” for history and heritage, with plans to market the “H-STEM program” to elementary, middle and high schools as well as colleges across Western Pennsylvania, Carlino said. The boat will be available for tourist packages as well as private charters, corporate events, weddings and other gatherings.

Rivers of Steel is a Homestead-based nonprofit that aims to preserve Western Pennsylvania's natural, historical and recreational resources. It manages one of 49 national heritage areas and a state heritage area. Its major projects include the Carrie Furnaces in Rankin, The Bost Building in Homestead and the Battle of Homestead site at The Waterfront.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514 or nlindstrom@tribweb.com.

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