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Hear Philly: Mixing Science And Cocktails At The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute after dark. (Credit: The Franklin Institute)

The Franklin Institute after dark. (Credit: The Franklin Institute)

By Alexa Kelly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Franklin Institute’s adults-only monthly events combine scientific learning and happy hour this summer through 2015.

Science After Hours treats adults 21 and over to an evening of hands-on activities. Hosted on the second Tuesday of every month, these nights include a cash bar.

Each Science After Hours lasts from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and tickets are online for $15, or $10 if you’re a museum member. After decades of catering to kids, why does the regional staple want to bring in more adults? President and CEO Larry Dubinski said it is all about hooking 21 to 40-year-olds on the museum year-round.

“While we’re known to many as a place in which kids come on school visits or families come to visit, our goal is really to bring curiosity and inspire people whether they’re young or old,” Dubinski said. “One of our goals is to bring in more attendance but also to bring in a new audience, an audience that hasn’t visited as much.”

Franklin Institute President and CEO Larry Dubinski. (Credit: The Franklin Institute)

Franklin Institute President and CEO Larry Dubinski. (Credit: The Franklin Institute)

On Tuesday August 12, Science After Hours visitors can expect a circus spectacular. “The highlight will no doubt be performances by fire-breathers and sword-swallowers, plus seeing a person lie on a bed of nails,” Dubinski said.

Scientists will explain the mysteries behind these magical tricks, and Philadelphia zoo experts will discuss training circus animals. Visitors can also swing from a trapeze, which is part of the Institute’s exhibit, Science Under the Big Top.

As for mixing acrobatics and alcohol, Dubinski said not to worry. “We’ll have plenty of staff to monitor,” he said, laughing.

September 9 Science After Hours will celebrate the museum’s archived inventions. Guests can also build their own innovations, according to Dubinski. The 190-year-old Institute will show off an artifact from its larger-than-life namesake – Ben Franklin’s lightning rod.

Inside The Franklin Institute. (Credit: The Franklin Institute)

Inside The Franklin Institute. (Credit: The Franklin Institute)

October 14 is the After Hours “Monster Mash Up”. It will explore the scientific likelihood of zombies and the Loch Ness Monster.

In honor of Thanksgiving, the November 11 event will delve into indulgent guilty pleasures – everything from chocolate to Dungeons and Dragons.

The Institute has hosted five Science After Hours so far, and the events draw 500 to 1,000 people. Over 2,500 people have attended these parties in total. Dubinski said he sees no signs of Science After Hours slowing down.

Food and drink choices will change with each event. Expect funnel cake and snow cones for the August circus night and classic Americana like root beer and hotdogs for the September inventions event.

Dubinski said the Institute will serve some memorable treats from past events. “One of the favorite ones that we’ll bring out every once in a while is combining marshmallows and rum with liquid nitrogen, so that folks were able to have a frosty breath so to speak,” he said. Beer, wine and cocktails will be available as well.

Science After Hours grew from the Institute’s annual Philadelphia Science Festival, Dubinski said. The four-year-old festival engages all ages in educational programs, but special activities excluded kids and included a bar.

With the success of Science After Hours, Dubinski said the museum will host adult events year-round in 2015. To learn more about these events, visit fi.edu.

The Institute aims to activate young adults’ interest in science through Science After Hours. “We don’t want someone just up speaking. We don’t want someone handing out a pamphlet,” Dubinski said. “We want the visitor that comes here hands-on, engaged, immersive and learning something and having fun about doing it.”

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