Serving up Science

The other week, while many Israelis stayed home to clean their kitchens before the upcoming Passover holiday and thousands of preteens were screaming themselves hoarse over Justin Bieber in a Tel-Aviv park, another sort of cultural event was taking place nearby. Following the success of the beer and science event in Rehovot, we took Weizmann scientists and students to the bars and cafes of Tel Aviv.

No one was quite sure if it would work. Rehovot, after all, is the city of science, while Tel Aviv is the city of culture – of music, art and theater. But, it’s also the city of nightlife, and it turns out that popular science and nightlife can work together. Forty talks took place in 40 different venues, and every one of them was filled to capacity, some even spilling out onto the sidewalks.

Institute President Prof. Daniel Zajfman was quoted in The Marker on Sunday:

If we had done this in the Weizmann Institute’s classrooms, far fewer people would have come, though they would have treated the talks as lectures. A very simple rule in teaching is that if you want people to learn, they have to want to learn. We didn’t come to teach, but rather to confer knowledge.

Our conclusion? The public is truly interested in hearing about science – as long as it is served up the right way.