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Brewing curiosity: ‘Science on Tap’ blends beer and learning into ‘something fun’

David Gibson, educator at National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, has some fun with science during a demonstration. (Courtesy of David Gibson)

Have a drink and enjoy some science during “Science on Tap” at O’Niell’s Nob Hill.

The event is held the first Thursday of every month, except for December. Topics vary each month. This month’s event, “Action and Reaction,” will take place on Thursday, Feb. 6. It will be led by David Gibson, educator at National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. Gibson has participated in several “Science on Tap” events, which are presented in collaboration with the nuclear museum and Explora. The topics change every month.

“It really just kind of depends on what’s going on with the museum,” Gibson said. “The ‘Action and Reaction’ one that we’re doing we have a temporary exhibit that is all about design, so we wanted to do some things that involved physical reactions, chemical reactions, that kind of stuff. So it really depends on what’s happening at the museum or maybe if it’s a new Star Wars movie coming out, you know, we can talk about that type of technology or that type of science, but it’s really there’s no set way to figure out what we’re going to do for these events.”

“Action and Reaction” is not going to be a high-level science event but more “fun science,” according to Gibson.

“What we’re going to be doing is talking about reactions – say, physical reactions – doing things like the Mould chain reaction, the Mould chain effect, that works with kind of the Newton principles of action and equal and opposite reaction, that type of thing, so chemical reactions,” he said. “Talk a little about radioactivity and nuclear reactions, but because the last one was so radioactivity-based, I probably won’t get too heavy into that.”

Gibson will have some activities for attendees to try. Some lucky guests will win goodie bags filled with science-related fun from Explora and the nuclear museum gift shops.

“I usually have stuff at every table and (say), ‘Here, you guys can participate in this. I want you guys to do it too,’ ” Gibson said. “I kind of normally deal with teaching kids, and so I found that if you have something that is fun, it doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s still fun. So I will take a lot demonstrations that I’ll do with kids that are hands-on things that kids find impressive or find amazing and have the adults do them.”

The event runs from 5:30 to 7 p.m., with the science demonstration beginning around 6 p.m. Guests start arriving at 5:30 to mingle, find a seat, order drinks and eat dinner. A question-and-answer session with the presenter usually follows “Science on Tap” events. Gibson uses the time to go around to tables and explain more about the hands-on activities guests are participating in.

“I want this event to be something where you’re thinking, ‘Yea, science! This is something fun. I learned a little bit,’ ” Gibson said. “But you’re really not there to learn; you’re there to experience science. So, yeah, you don’t have to have any Ph.D’s or any letters after your name to enjoy this one.”

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