“Science for the Curious” through Beer, Whiskey, Chocolate, GMOs, Pi(e), Films, and ‘Game of Thrones’

Monica Metzler (Illinois Science Council), Gina Daniel (Northwestern University) and Robyn Moncrief (DePaul University)

Illinois Science Council (ISC) is an independent, volunteer-driven nonprofit that engages, educates, and entertains the adult public about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in our everyday lives. ISC offers multiple outreach programs open to the public, aimed at adults and accessible to teens. ISC’s Chemistry for Adults series creates a fun atmosphere as attendees learn about the chemistry of popular commodities such as beer, chocolate, whiskey, coffee, etc., by doing experiments and hearing from industry experts and chemists on-site. Programs on science subjects from the news (Higgs Boson discovery; Perseid Meteor viewing), talks on topics of interest (Your Brain on... Happiness, Creativity, Addiction, Exercise, etc.), author talks, and film screenings give people the opportunity to hear directly from and ask questions of scientists in an open conversation. Funding and attention for STEM for the public pales in comparison to that for the arts sector. So ISC follows that model with year-round programming and the Chicago Science Festival, modeled after Chicago’s popular humanities, literature, and arts festivals for adult audiences. Science Fest showcases local researchers and the Chicago-area museums, national labs, universities, and companies where they work. This raises the profile of research among the public and the media, creates a wide variety of options to attract and engage people with science, and provides opportunities for ISC to partner with researchers on their NSF "Broader Impacts" proposals.