GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 49-10
Presentation Time: 4:05 PM


HAAS, Don, 92 South Dr, Amherst, NY 14226-4127 and ZIDELL, Kenneth R., Buffalo, NY 14260

In the fall of 2019, Haas taught the University of Buffalo’s Seminar in Informal Education, a graduate seminar, for the University of Buffalo’s Department of Learning and Instruction. As a project for the class, Ken Zidell initiated Buffalo Science in the Pub which began with monthly programs in January 2020. January and February sessions drew respectably sized and fully engaged audiences to Buffalo’s Resurgence Brewery.

In March of 2020, everything changed. Buffalo Science in the Pub became Science in the Virtual Pub and shifted from monthly to every two weeks. The audience expanded from serving those in Western New York, who were interested enough to drive to a pub (or just happened to be in the pub while the program was happening) to potentially global, and reliably continental. Regular participants attend from Buffalo, Calgary, and Mexico City. Parents and their adult child have often attended together - sometimes as the parent or child of the presenter.

Unsurprisingly, the first two speakers for Buffalo Science in the Pub were affiliated with the University of Buffalo. When the program moved online, the geographic reach for speakers expanded instantly. Speakers have included undergraduates, university faculty, a Nobel Laureate, a physician, museum and nature center educators, and a filmmaker. Presenters have also been diverse in terms of age, geography, gender and ethnicity.

Attendance has ranged from 10 to 99 (which may have been a technological limit, since raised) and participants regularly expressed gratitude for having a bit of socialization and science-focused relaxation during a very tumultuous time.

While the program is partially returning to the actual pub, it will also continue virtually. As vaccines have reduced contagion and New York State has surpassed a 70% vaccination rate, the program will return to Resurgence Brewery for face-to-face events, beginning August 25. The program is shifting to twice a month (from every other week). The second Thursday of the month will continue Science in the Virtual Pub. The fourth Wednesday will be at Resurgence with a Facebook Livestream. Programming is scheduled through January of 2022.

This session will provide lessons learned from over a year of online programming including participation data, and suggestions about starting and running similar programming.