Adult Swim program mixes fun with science, pop culture

Adults will take over the Hands On Children’s Museum on Friday (April 17), and this time around, the subject isn’t beer or wine but self-knowledge.

Selfie Science is the topic for the latest in the museum’s quarterly Adult Swim nights, when the museum adds bars and a DJ and opens only to those 21 and older.

The museum launched the series of program two years ago, inspired by similar events at other museums, including The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Crowds have ranged from 400-600 people, and the museum has even had to turn people away some nights. In January, the program was about craft beer. It was an idea museum education coordinator Adrienne Testa used while organizing a similar series of adults-only nights at the all-ages Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C. Beer was the most popular theme, she said.

The theme for Friday’s progam came from adult visitors themselves.

“We get a lot of feedback from people that they want to talk about themselves and learn about their minds and sociology,” said Adrienne Testa, the museum’s education coordinator and the organizer of Adult Swim. “We’re pairing the more serious side of the science with the fun, pop culture, selfie kind of stuff.”

Many of the activities are based on social science and will be led by experts from St. Martin’s University, Testa said. One example is a prisoner’s dilemma game, which reveals why people making rational decisions don’t always act in their own self interest.

There will be an inkblot test, too, and creative types can make their own inkblots, try silk screening, and make a mask and a collage portrait.

And then there’s the Science of Palm Reading event, which is still in the works.

There will, of course, be an opportunity to take selfies and be part of a hyperlapse video.

“At many of our Adult Swim events, we have seen people taking selfies,” said Jillian Henze, the museum’s communications manager. “It’s definitely a popular thing. We have a great stage that will be a fun place for people to take selfies, and we also have a photo booth at each event.”

Of course, a big draw of the Adult Swim nights is just the opportunity to check out the museum, which generally doesn’t admit adults who aren’t accompanied by kids.

“It’s a little sad that adults don’t often get to play,” Testa said. “Sometimes we see them come into the museum and they don’t know what to do.”

And clearly, the events are appreciated. “We’ve had almost all sell-out events,” she said.

So what do adults like to do? Besides art projects, favorites include the volcano exhibit and the slide.

“I love to be slide monitor on Adult Swim nights,” Henze said. “It’s really fun.”

The Outdoor Discovery Center also will be open Friday.

“People can run around and play out there,” Testa said, “and we have bunnies out there now, so we’re hoping that will be a big draw.”

Back inside, the bars will serve selfie-themed drinks, and Fish Brewing Co. will have beer on tap. Barb’s BBQ and Abby’s Cookies & Cupcakes will have food for sale — and the museum will give out fortune cookies with suggestions for random acts of kindness.

One example of the latter: “Smile at a stranger.”

Good suggestion — and if you smile at a cute one, it adds the finishing touch to the nightclub-for-a-night atmosphere.