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Columbus Science Pub Flocks to COSI for Bird Talk

Jesse Bethea Jesse Bethea Columbus Science Pub Flocks to COSI for Bird Talk
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Once a month, Columbus Science Pub offers an opportunity to gather in a relaxed, casual space and learn about scientific topics usually reserved for the classroom. This evening, however, the science will move out of the pub and onto COSI’s plaza for a talk by Dr. Chris Tonra all about birds and bird migration.

“2018 is a special year for birds,” said Dr. Katherine O’Brien, one of the organizers for Columbus Science Pub, in an email. “The Audubon ociety has declared 2018 the year of the bird in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the signing of the Migratory Bird Act, a multinational treaty to protect birds through all stages of their migration.”

The skies over Ohio are a major route for migrating birds headed to South America and the Caribbean for winter, hence the name of Dr. Tonra’s presentation – “The Feathered Superhighway Over Our Heads.” Dr. Tonra is a conservation biologist and professor at OSU’s Department of Natural Resources, studying bird behavior and tracking their migratory patterns.

“[Dr. Tonra] spoke at one of our regular monthly pubs back in April about birds migrating north,” said Dr. O’Brien. “Now that the birds are on their way back south, we wanted to invite him back to speak at this special Pub at COSI.”

Columbus Science Pub has had many organizers over the years, but is currently headed by Dr. O’Brien, a biologist and contractor with the Center for Life Science Education at the Ohio State University, and by Rob Evans, a communications manager at Battelle Education.

“Science Pub connects people to science in a special, informal way. We create a space to talk about really important things,” said Evans in an email. “Just this year, we’ve heard about the health of the environment, climate change, and what the brain looks as people evaluate their beliefs.”

Typically, the monthly Science Pubs are hosted by ShadowBox Live at Backstage Bistro on Front Street. This is the first time Columbus Science Pub will find itself at COSI.

“We have shared speakers between COSI and Science Pub. And COSI’s Paul Sutter is one of our regular presenters, but this is the first time we’ve been able to use their space. Big thanks to the Joe Wood and the COSI team there for making that happen,” said Evans. “This won’t be the last COSI/Science Pub event either. As part of their upcoming Science Festival, we’re planning more events through the year, leading up to the big show in May of 2019.”

In addition to partnering with ShadowBox Live and COSI, Columbus Science Pub also partners with the STEAM Factory at OSU. Evans and O’Brien usually recruit Science Pub speakers from their connections at Battelle and OSU, reach out to potential speakers featured in local articles, or from suggestions on Facebook. No matter what the topic, Science Pub seeks to always make the science accessible.

“We don’t exclusively cover brain surgery and other serious topics,” said Evans. “In March, we brought in Battelle engineer Rick Olson to talk about the science of the sport of curling. One of my all-time favorite speakers was local embalmer Jay Moffett.”

“Science Pub is a really laid-back space where you can have your science questions answered,” said O’Brien. “Our hope is that our audience gets to see that science is not scary, boring or something to skip in third period.”

Tonight’s Science Pub starts at 5 p.m. with food, drinks and games. Dr. Tonra’s presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. and run for about an hour.

For more information, visit the Columbus Science Pub’s Facebook page.

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