Guests ages 21 and up can engage their brain while looking at someone else’s this week during COSI After Dark.
COSI will host its monthly After Dark program Thursday, a 21-plus event that focuses on letting adults learn through play without the distraction of hordes of children who flood the interactive science center during the day. This month’s theme, Halloween, will have plenty of spooky activities through a partnership with the Department of Neuroscience at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State.
“Being a hands-on museum, there has been a perception that COSI is only for kids, but we think COSI is great for people of all ages, including adults,” Joe Wood, director of adult engagement at COSI, said.
Wood, an Ohio State alumnus, works with the rest of the adult engagement team to create After Dark experiences that older guests will find fun, while delivering a level of depth that the everyday COSI experience might lack, he said.
Wood said this month the museum will provide interactive exhibits about the science of fear to keep with the Halloween spirit. Ohio State will provide background on how the brain responds to perceived threats and even bring real brains attendees can examine.
Other activities will present concepts such as the uncanny valley — the uneasy effect caused by things that look almost human — through the lens of Halloween staples such as scary clowns. The museum’s Electric Workshop will be rebranded as “Dr. Frankenstein’s Electric Workshop,” incorporating electric devices such as Tesla coils from as far back as the 1830s. There will also be a costume contest, and Wood said all guests are encouraged to come in costume.
In addition to these October-specific attractions, COSI will provide access to its daytime exhibits, as well as After Dark staples such as bars scattered across the facility and a buffet. This month, the craft brewing partner is Seventh Son Brewing Company.
Wood said drinks go for rates that match the bars of the neighborhood, meaning an average of $6 for a beer. The buffet will offer an all-you-can-eat option for $16, in addition to a la carte options.
Dana Larison, a spring 2019 graduate of Ohio State, said she participated in an After Dark event this past fall and enjoyed herself despite steep prices for refreshments.
“It was kinda neat that you got to run around and play with everything as if you were a kid, without the pressure of watching kids doing it,” Larison said.
She said the most memorable part of her experience was visiting the planetarium for a Pink Floyd show. For an extra $5, Wood said visitors can attend one of three planetarium showings. The last presentation features a laser light show set to tunes from “Dark Side of the Moon,” which Wood said is exclusive to After Dark.
Claire Pan, another recent Ohio State alumna, attended in May for the Star Wars-themed After Dark. She said attendees take their costumes seriously, so students looking to attend should plan on dressing up.
“It was like going to a Star Wars-themed Comic Con,” she said.
Wood said the themes are carefully considered for each After Dark event. Picking a theme and developing appropriate programming is a “combination of art and science” and involves guest feedback.
Pan, like Larison, said the steep prices of the event were a negative, but she would definitely go again.
“Honestly, COSI is the best without children,” she said. “Every single amusement park and museum just needs a child-free day. It’s so nice.”
Indeed, the idea is paying off for COSI. Wood said the event sees an average attendance of around 1,000 people, and he recommends getting tickets ahead of time.
Wood said adult learning is not just a focus during After Dark, but any time an adult walks through COSI’s door. In addition to After Dark, COSI recently launched COSI Discovery Nights, another 21-plus event that seeks to cater to older audiences and deeper learning experiences.
“Play is not just important for kids. It is how kids learn, but it is also how adults learn. So learning through play is more effective than just reading something in a book or in an article online — actually getting your hands in there and doing it,” Wood said. “Also, it’s a lot more fun, and why should kids have all the fun?”
COSI After Dark’s Halloween event will run from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday. The event costs $20 in advance for nonmembers or $25 at the door. For more information on this and future After Dark events, visit cosi.org/adults/cosi-after-dark.