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.

More like this

Are quantum physics more intelligible after a beer or two? That might be an illusion, but you wouldn't know it from the enthusiastic crowd who packed a Rehovot restaurant/pub last Thursday evening to hear a talk on the subject given by one of the Weizmann Institute's research students. Even those…
Explain to a pub full of beer drinkers exactly what it is you do in your lab. That's the idea behind Science on Tap, which will be taking place again this year in bars, coffee shops and restaurants in the heart of Tel Aviv's entertainment district at the end of the month. A Science on Tap…
One Thursday evening near the end of July, people sitting outside a local ice cream parlor watched a neurobiology Ph.D. student wave his hand in front of his face in imitation of a robot learning to sense itself as separate from its surroundings. Despite the trains arriving at the station in the…
Next week is a big week for science in Israel. Tuesday is National Science Day, and Thursday is the annual Science on Tap talks in the bars and restaurants of Tel Aviv. Don't know about National Science Day -- this science writer will just point out that of all the minstries that are being fought…