Megan Harries from the National Institute of Standards and Technology speaks with two high schoolers at the Science Discovery Teen Café in January 2018. (photo courtesy science discovery Teen Café)

Boulder scientists launch outreach programs

Scientists in Boulder are throwing open the doors to their laboratories (metaphorically speaking). To engender more public curiosity and engagement, members of the science community have launched outreach programs to help demystify science and make their work more accessible.

In January 2018, Gunbarrel Brewing Co. owners Jamie and Marie Fox teamed up with tropospheric chemistry researcher Chelsea Thompson to create “Science on Tap”—a lecture series featuring science experts and, of course, beer. Marie Fox says, “My husband Jamie is a neuroscientist, and when we decided to start the brewery, we wanted to give back to the science community.” “Science on Tap” has hosted monthly talks about avalanches, wildfires’ effect on climate change, sharks and more.

For a digital dose of science, a team at CU Boulder created a weekly podcast to share information about CU studies: CU Boulder Lab R.A.T.S. (Research and Technology Stories). CU Boulder seniors Andres Belton and Molly Phannenstiel take listeners through tales that range from sleep disruption to marijuana studies, and they do it in less than 3 minutes.

Not forgetting the younger generation, CU also hosts a Science Discovery Teen Café organized by Alexandra Rose. “The goal is to inspire kids to get excited for the fields of science they didn’t even know existed,” Rose says. “We’ve had scientists come in and talk about why is something funny—the science of humor, the science of teenage depression, forensics… The kinds of science kids get exposed to in school is limited—they think, ‘Oh, I can be a chemist, physicist, doctor…’ but science extends to everything.”

Catch more science talks at TedXBoulder, Fiske Planetarium, CU Boulder faculty lectures, NCAR and UCAR public seminars (also see UCAR Climate and Global Dynamics Seminars), and local nature centers and museums.

—Sara Bruskin