The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a beacon of education. Its goal is to improve the public’s understanding of science and technology though creative programs and interpretive exhibits for both children and adults.
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a beacon of education.
Its goal is to improve the public’s understanding of science and technology though creative programs and interpretive exhibits for both children and adults.
Other than OMSI After Dark, a claustrophobically crowded event that offers adults a “child-free” night of science and booze, there haven’t been many places for adults in Portland to quench their thirst for science.
In an effort to diversify their programming and “expand science education among adults”—a daunting task given that most young adults relish the idea of graduating college and never having to sit through another boring lecture ever again—OMSI created Science Pub.
Since 2006, OMSI’s Science Pub has covered topics from lessons learned from the Japan and Haiti earthquakes, to genetically modified food, to Oregon’s little-known gray whale population, to the science of lasers—drawing scientists, researchers, authors and nature photographers to lecture from all over Oregon and beyond.
Despite doubts that Portlanders wouldn’t want to sit quietly in a cramped bar for two hours and listen to a researcher talk about science, the event’s popularity quickly outgrew its original location, forcing OMSI to move it to a larger venue.
“There’s a lot of interest, which we found fascinating,” said Andrea Middleton, OMSI’s events manager. “Pretty much everyone’s enthusiastic.”
And that enthusiasm has since spread to five other cities in Oregon. Corvallis, McMinnville, Hillsboro, Eugene and Salem all host an OMSI Science Pub event once a month, proving that science isn’t just for scientists, but for everyone.
Amy McMackin, a Portland State alumna and local architect, attended her first Science Pub—a lecture on forensic anthropology—for reasons she doesn’t remember. What she does remember was how approachable the science was. She found that the speaker “kept the lecture fun and casual and quirky.”
Upon attending the lecture on lessons learned after the Japan and Haiti earthquakes, McMackin was shocked to discover just how unprepared the United States is for such a catastrophe.
A coworker who attended the event with McMackin “went so far as to get our office thoroughly prepped for the big one. We now all have earthquake kits strapped under our desks and bins full of emergency food in case we are stuck here for days.”
Teresa Nguyen, a teacher at Growing Seeds Early Learning Community, attended the epigenetics lecture with a biologist friend.
“As soon as I got into the venue, I was immediately culture-shocked just by the sheer density of people stuffing themselves into this tiny pub. Stadium balcony seats and floor-seat space or not, there were people here to get their nerd on,” Nguyen said.
Next Science Pub
Tuesday, Jan. 15
Mission Theatre and Pub
1624 NW Glisan St.
Topic: “Exploring the Deep Ocean: Strange Animals, Submarine Volcanoes, and Life in Extreme Environments”
For more information on
Science Pub in Portland and other locations, visit omsi.edu/events-and-programs/science-pub
Other science lectures in Portland include:
Linus Pauling Memorial Lecturesisepp.org
One might think that Science Pub’s draw is simply the fact that it’s a free event and an easy way to get in out of the cold and have a couple of beers, but attendees are deeply focused on the science. According to Nguyen, the projector shorted out during the epigenetics lecture and, though it could have killed the talk early, the whole crowd loudly encouraged the speaker to continue.
“That was the most awesome thing about the evening,” Nguyen said. “Not only was everyone genuinely interested in learning, but we had the speaker’s back in wanting to be sure we were here to see her speak and give our due respects.”
Science Pub is usually held the first Monday or Tuesday of every month, sometimes twice a month, at either the Bagdad Theater and Pub or the Mission Theatre and Pub. The 21-and-over event starts at 7 p.m., but because of growing crowds doors open at 5 p.m. Cost is a suggested donation of $5.