The Science Near Me blog is a partnership between Discover magazine and ScienceNearMe.org.
If you’re on the hunt for fun date night ideas, here's an option you may not have considered: a science center. What could be more romantic than nerding out with a loved one?
Science centers can be part museum, part theater, part classroom and more all rolled into one. They’re filled with hands-on exhibits that demonstrate science concepts in fun and entertaining ways, and they often host events or put on shows for all ages. With almost 400 science centers in the U.S. alone, there’s bound to be one somewhere near you!
We reached out to Science Near Me’s partners to hear their recommendations for an extra special, extra sciencey date night.
“It’s always a good time to visit your local science center,” says Christofer Nelson, president and CEO of the Association of Science and Technology Centers. “While many people know that science centers are a great place to bring the kids, science centers and science museums have experiences for people of all ages, including events specifically for adults such as after-hours socials, lectures and discussions, community science projects and even pub nights.”
A science center is a great place for a date because there are so many interesting things for adults to explore, says Patrick Turner, Chief Advancement Officer at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno, Nevada. After all, what better way to connect with someone than by getting touch with your inner child, or learning something new.
“They’re a wonderful opportunity to step away from the roles and responsibilities of our day-to-day adult life,” says Joe Cox, president & CEO of the Museum of Discovery and Science in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. “Whether you’re coming face to face with a life-sized Megalodon, building a LEGO wildlife habitat in a Makerspace, riding in a Mars Rover Simulator or creating and launching paper planes across a bustling exhibition, the thrill of recapturing the joy of new discoveries around every corner is something every adult should experience – even without children tagging along!”
“If we've learned anything when we hold adult-only events at Maine Discovery Museum, it's that adults often have just as much (if not more!) fun as the kids who visit,” says Kate Dickerson, Executive Director at the Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor, Maine. “Just like our younger visitors, they get science insights from our exhibits and programs, work at their own pace and what we hear when they leave is that they want to come back.
“Science centers are an excellent chance for adults to learn about the science that has evolved since they've been in school,” says Dickerson. “Best of all, it's an informal setting for creative engagement and curiosity-seeking. There's no ‘incorrect’ way to experience and learn about science at a science center… unless you don't go.”
Events for Adults at Science Centers
Adults can visit science centers and science museums any time, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for opportunities to attend adults-only events for an extra special night out.
“Many science museums offer special 18+ 'after dark' events that include dancing, cocktails, live music or a DJ and fun, high impact science demonstrations or speakers,” says Ash Friend, Education Director at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland, Oregon. For example, ScienceWorks is kicking off a new “after hours” series with a Mardi Gras party for ages 21+ on February 24.
You can find events like these at science centers across the country! A few times a year, The Discovery in Reno hosts 21+ science exploration events in their Social Science series. Each night has a different theme, and your admission includes beer, wine and light bites to help make the experience fun and memorable. The next event, Wizards & Snitches on February 28, offers Harry Potter-themed demonstrations, trivia, hands-on workshops and more. Meanwhile their Science Distilled series, in partnership with the Desert Research Institute, regularly showcases the work of local researchers through presentations on current and curious topics at hip local venues. Check Science Near Me for more of The Discovery’s Social Science and Science Distilled events and more.
The Michigan Science Center in Detroit, Michigan hosts an “after dark” event series, too! They held a Halloween event last October, and will host a special “Un-Valentine’s Day” event this February 10 with a guest lecture, bar, DJ and special-edition Taylor Swift laser show, all in addition to access to all the museum’s galleries and theater experiences.
And if you need a last-minute idea for Valentine’s Day – why not a trip to the science museum? “A trip to a science center is a great date night! Many science centers offer special Valentine's Day programming,” says Friend. “Check out the one near you, to see if they're offering any themed programming or speakers.”
If your organization offers events, projects or programs that invite the public to engage in STEM, add it to Science Near Me!