Sternberg trip to Denver a success

Sternberg Denver

11/10/15 rg
HAYS, Kan. -- The third time was the charm.

David Levering, the education director at Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History, wanted to share his passion for science -- and throw in some craft and specialty beers, too. But Levering was having difficulty finding enough adults wanting to take a trip to Denver to explore his passion for both science and craft and specialty beer. Twice before, not enough people signed up.

Hoping for eight this time, Levering settled for four to accompany him for the trip "Sternberg Outbound: Denver" last month.

"I would consider it a success," Levering said. "I would consider it a greater success if we had more people, but all the feedback I've gotten back has been nothing but positive. Our participants had a really good time."

The first day of the trip included a tour of the Sternberg Museum research collections, as well as a meeting with the brewers of Defiance Brewery, and Gella's Diner & Lb. Brewing Co., also in Hays, before the group traveled to Denver.

"Across the board, the favorite part was visiting the museum collections," Levering said. "They really seemed to enjoy the behind-the-scenes stuff at the museums -- as much if not more -- than the beer science part."

The first day in Denver, the group visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
The group also visited a couple of breweries -- River North Brewery and Epic Brewing Denver before visiting De Steeg Brewing. On the last day of the trip, the group traveled to Boulder to visit Avery Brewing.

"I thought the trip was a great opportunity to get some friends together, explore the Denver Museum, local eateries and breweries, and of course, broaden my knowledge behind the science of beer and expand my palette for the numerous beer offerings and flavors out there," said Karl Pratt, Hays.

Pratt knew what the highlight was for him.

"The behind-the-scenes tours at both the Sternberg and Denver museums were outstanding," he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the 'hidden' collections first-hand."

Levering said another trip to Denver might be considered in the future if there are more participants. He is working on other adult travel programs, including one in 2017 to the Galapagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean which Charles Darwin visited in 1835. His observation of Galápagos' species later inspired his theory of evolution.

Levering's goal is to make science more approachable to the everyday person.
"The appeal of doing stuff like this is at the basic level adults like doing cool stuff, too," he said. "Going outside and exploring and looking at cool stuff isn't something people stop enjoying when they turn 18."

Levering is aware some people are scared off at the thought of science, remembering past bad experiences in school, for instance. That's where Sternberg's programs come in.

"In an informal setting -- like the museum -- we can talk about science in a way that is meant to be more approachable," Levering said. "We want people to have a greater appreciation for how science gets done. At the same time, we're going to have some themes about how beer gets made, because there's a lot of science in that, too. But if we had done a class on that at the museum, we may or may not have had the same number of people.

"The advantage of our program, we don't give you a test at the end," he added. "We're just excited to talk about it. The opportunity to get people excited about these things is just as important as anything else we're doing."

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