By Alicia Green, Point Park News Service:
Having the chance to be a kid again – all while learning about science and engaging with like-minded adults – is at the heart of the Carnegie Science Center’s 21+ Night program.
“We always noticed when adults are here, especially if they’re here with their kids, (they’re) standing back and letting the kids have fun with our exhibits,” Zachary Weber, education coordinator of adult programs at the Science Center, said. “You could always tell that the adults secretly wanted to get in there and play as well, but it would look weird if (an adult was) in there playing alone in the water table with a bunch of 6-year-olds.”
Since 2012, the Science Center has held themed 21+ Night programs every month, except for July. Adults have the opportunity to roam free on the four floors of the Science Center’s main building after dark. They also get to enjoy live music while choosing from a variety of wine, beer and cocktail selections.
So far, the Science Center has its 21+ Night events covered for the next three months. September’s event focuses on “Robots” and kicks off Friday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m.
“We have a new movie in our Omnimax that is playing,” Weber said. “It’s all about robots. We’re kind of going to go off of that.”
Weber said one of the robots in the movie, HERB (the Home Exploring Robot Butler), is going to be on site as well as a few other robots from Carnegie Mellon University. There will also be plenty of hands-on activities, including playing a robot in air hockey, making a binary code bracelet and programing a robot to make art or navigate a maze. Local band “Nameless in August” is set to perform in the Robot Lounge.
North Side resident Melanie Krugel and her husband, Brad, plan on attending the September event.
“We took our niece and nephew there this past year when they came to visit, but we didn’t get to spend as much time as we wanted to,” Krugel, 33, said. “So when we heard about the 21 and older event, we were really excited.”
Krugel said they chose to attend “Robots” because the Science Center’s “roboworld” exhibit was “one of our favorite exhibits.” She said her husband also likes Star Wars: R2-D2 and C-3PO from the popular franchise are part of the exhibit.
“Having this venue be open at different times and it being specifically for adults, kind of gives you permission to have a night to be kids,” Krugel said. “We don’t have kids yet so it’s nice to be able to act like a kid.”
PC technician Nicholas Lansberry, 23, of Tarentum, attended his first 21+ Night event in August, which explored the science of beer.
“It’s so great to be able to get off work, go out with a group of friends, have a few drinks and learn,” Lansberry said. “My age group has a stigma surrounding it about drinking all the time and going out just to bars and such, and that’s never really been my scene. But being able to relax, meet people, see friends and indulge in science is an amazing feeling.”
For those who can’t make it to the September event, they can travel back to the future on Friday, Oct. 16, with Marty McFly by dressing in their best fashion from 1885, 1955, 1985 or 2015 – all nods to the popular “Back to the Future” movie franchise.
“This October is the year when Marty goes to the future,” Weber said. “We’re finally in the future. We’ll be doing some activities related to the movie. We’ll be playing ‘Back to the Future II’ in our Science Stage. The Steel City Time Machine, which is an actual DeLorean that has been made up to look like the time machine from the ‘Back to the Future’ movies, will be on site for photo ops.”
Weber said there would also be other activities such as looking at magnetism and how to make things hover.
Then on Nov. 13, the Science Center is partnering with the Pittsburgh Glass Center for the fourth year to “explore the art and science of glass,” Weber said. Guests will be able to make their own glass tiles as well as watch glass artists give demonstrations about melting and sculpting glass among other activities.
“We always want people to learn something while they’re there,” Weber said. “That is definitely always a goal of ours any time we do any kind of event. We want people to learn from our exhibits and to get excited about science, and to see that we can find the science in almost any theme that we focus on. But we also want people to just have fun.”
For those interested, tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. All guests must have proper identification and cash for the cash bar.