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Dark Matters offers an adults-only experience at the Telus World of Science

Don't de-Nye yourself the science of Dark Matters
Don't de-Nye yourself the science of Dark Matters

If you grew up in Edmonton, it’s almost impossible that a school field trip didn’t deposit you out at the Telus World of Science at least once, letting you and your classmates frolic among the interactive exhibits and explorations of learning and creativity.

As an adult, though, your science-centre attendance has more likely tapered off, possibly because of that endless influx of children. This is one of the reasons why Dark Matters has come to exist: as a regular night dedicated to the 18-plus crowd, it stands to offer those over the legal drinking age a chance to reconnect with science, sans kids. There is learning and booze. And, given the nature of the place, probably some learning about booze too.

“We take the fun you had as a kid, and make it OK to have that fun again as an adult,” says Christina Weichel, marketing and communications coordinator for Telus World of Science. Dark Matters was created about a year ago, and has proceeded on a monthly-ish schedule (sometimes skipping a month or two) to give the grown-up demographic a fun hook back to the centre.

“I think we just saw there was a need for it,” Weichel explains. “There were adults who were coming to the science centre, they’re still very interested in what we have going on here, [but] I think there was a misconception that we are a kids’ museum. And while we obviously cater to that group–we have school programs that come in, and we are a field-trip destination—there is more that we do.

“They’re not waiting in line behind the kids to try something out,” she continues of Dark Matters nights, “or they’re not maybe embarrassed to do something because kids are waiting behind them to try something out. They really get to do the hands-on stuff. And not only that, it also gives us the opportunity to do things that we can’t do with the kids: maybe because it’s a little bit technical or a little bit more risk.”

Each Dark Matters is guided by a theme: the upcoming edition is Food and Beer (see? learning about booze!). The centre’s bringing in a broad range of guests for the night: two of NAIT’s culinary instructors, Maynard Kolskog and Hong Chew, will respectively be sharing “Passion Fruit Nitro Dragons” and homemade sausage; Alley Kat Brewing will be slinging ale and talking brew; Dustin Bajer, an urban bee keeper, will discuss raising a hive of his own within the city limits and likeminded Patricia Milligan will have honey from the region to share, as will local cheese enthusiast Ian Treuer, of his more particularly dairy trade. All of which to say: there will be plenty of consumables to go around.

There will also be a Sensory Experience Tasting Lab that Weichel says will demonstrate how the other senses affect taste, as well as strawberry DNA extractions (turns out that nimble red fruit has four times the copies of its DNA than humans do of ours).

That’s theme-specific programming. Dark Matters also includes access to the centre’s permanent exhibits, with no kids clogging up the lines (there’s also a bar). And, for an extra fee, you can peep in on the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibit presently installed here from its touring circuit.

After next Thursday, Dark Matters is taking a brief hiatus before returning in June with a look at sex, which follows Food and Beer and previous themes like zombies, which, Weichel notes, they explored through real-life causes and examples of the Walking Dead. They also filled the centre with hordes of shambling undead.

“We’re always seeking to find that spin,” she says. “The real world science exists, and now we’re going to try and have some fun with it.”

Thu, Mar 19 (7 pm)
Dark Matters: Food and Beer
Telus World of Science, $14 (advance), $20 (door)

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