Science on Tap: Hamilton

Science on Tap: Hamilton

Science on Tap creates an environment for McMaster University’s scientists to host scientific discussion with members of the public in a casual setting.


What is your project about?

The goal of Science on Tap is create a fun outreach event geared for adults. We aim to bring non-scientists together to talk with professional scientists, in attempt to make science feel less intimidating and less exclusive.

What are you going to do?

Science on Tap takes place on weeknight evening, and invites the public to come to a local bar and engages in discussions about science. Each event involves slideshow presentations from McMaster University scientists. Typically these presentations aren’t focused on the scientists’ personal research, but instead on a fun, broader, more publicly accessible scientific story. Between presentations there is a trivia slideshow running in the background, and patrons can choose to participate in the trivia or not for a chance to win some small prizes. People are also encouraged to approach scientists during the frequent intermissions for an informal discussion. The entire event lasts approximately two and a half hours.

Why are you doing it?

We believe science outreach events geared at non-scientist adults are underrepresented in the Hamilton community. Science (and Astronomy) on Tap events are popular around the world, and out pilot event has demonstrated that the same can be true of Hamilton. Scientific research need not remain behind closed doors, only accessible only to those with relevant degrees. Rather, scientists (above all, publicly-funded scientists) in fact have an obligation to relate their findings, especially when those findings can impact everyday life in our society. Science on Tap is an excellent means of facilitating this important dialog between scientists and their community.

How are you going to do it?

In order to prepare for an event, we need to:


  • book venues
  • confirm presenters
  • organize practice sessions and rehearsals
  • create trivia questions
  • purchase prizes
  • advertise our event through fliers and social media.

What results do you expect?

We held an inaugural event on February 28th at Artword Artbar, and the venue was full to capacity. There were patrons standing in the hallway, peering in through the entrance just to be a part of the night. We asked for feedback on comment cards, and the responses were overwhelmingly positive. We are quite confident we will be able to build on this success, and fill a larger venue than Artword Artbar, allowing more people to be involved in future events. However, we will need funding to book larger venues, and this is how SPICES could help us immensely.


Joey Rucska / Faculty of Science / Ph.D Physics & Astronomy / August 2022 / Co-Organizer

Carmen Lee / Faculty of Science / Ph.D Physics & Astronomy / August 2022 / Co-Organizer

Peter Hayman / Faculty of Science / Ph.D Physics & Astronomy / August 2020 / Co-Organizer

Thanassis Psaltis / Faculty of Science / Ph.D Physics & Astronomy / August 2020 / Co-Organizer

Adam Fortais / Faculty of Science / Ph.D Physics & Astronomy / August 2020 / Co-Organizer



We are planning on hosting three events in the upcoming calendar year, one in July, November and February.


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Project Team

Joey Rucska (lead organizer, PhD Physics & Astronomy)

Adam Fortais (organizer, treasurer, PhD Physics & Astronomy)

Ben Pearce (organizer, content creation, PhD Physics & Astronomy) 

Ashley Bemis (organizer, content creation, PhD Physics & Astronomy) 

Carmen Lee (organizer, content creation, PhD Physics & Astronomy) 

Thanassis Psaltis (organizer, content creation, PhD Physics & Astronomy)

Project Contact


With our Science on Tap project, we hosted three science outreach events which were open to the public. These events took place at the Spice Factory, and connected adults from the Hamilton area with working scientists from McMaster University in a casual setting. At each event we had three presentations from different scientists, and in the last two events we hosted a panel of graduate students in between two of these presentations.

The objective of these events was to provide an opportunity for members of the public to learn about the science that is being studied in their neighbourhood in an entertaining and engaging way. As we highlight below, we collected feedback in the form of comment cards after each event, and we find the results to be overwhelmingly positive. Those who came out to Science on Tap seemed to have a great time. The organizers loved seeing how engaged the members of the audience were when it came time to ask questions.

The scientists from McMaster who gave presentations or were involved with the panel also had a very positive experience. Science on Tap Hamilton offers a friendly setting for these people to share their scientific passion with an audience they do not typically interact with---namely, an audience with limited formal background in science.


Comment Cards

We collected feedback via comment cards, which featured three questions and empty space for general comments. We summarize the responses to these questions below. The questions were:

Was this your first time at a public science event? (Yes or No)
Were the presentations accessible? (Scale of 1-5, average presented in images below) Would you attend Science on Tap again? (Yes or No)

August 3rd, 2018 November 29th, 2018 March 22nd, 2019 (29 responses) (27 responses) (34 responses)

General Notes about each event:

August 3, 2018

First event at the Spice Factory. Peak attendance: ~60

November 29, 2018

Live demo for the final talk was a big hit. Peak attendance: ~60

March 22, 2019

First event where all speakers were from outside Physics & Astronomy. Loose theme of “Radiation”. Interactive microscope sample at the side was a big hit. Peak attendance: 72


Lessons Learned

We were advised by the UofT Astronomy on Tap group that members of the public are less keen to simply “mingle” with scientists in a crowd at a pub, and prefer to have more structured content presented to them, and we found this to be the case as well. However, as soon as we provided more interactive content at the side of the room, i.e., a microscope with live samples, people were quite interested and coming up and talking to the scientist in this scenario. We only had this type of content in our final event, but we now believe we must make every effort to have demos and other live content at all future events.

We had already done one Science on Tap event before our SPICES application last year, and that gave us a great idea of what we’d like these events to look like before we applied for funding. The result is we had a strong, rock-solid plan when our application was accepted, so we didn’t run into any financial mishaps or surprises because we already knew exactly what we wanted to spend our money on. We knew where we could be flexible and where we could not, and that allowed us to stay perfectly within our budget.


We had many reasons to believe that a scientific outreach event oriented towards adults would

do very well in Hamilton, and I think we proved ourselves right. Our nights have been full of

serious scientific discussion and enquiry, as well as laughter and jollity. The main highlight of our

efforts has come with observing the rewards, and witnessing how much people who are not

scientists enjoy coming to our events, and how much they contribute with strong questions for

our speakers. With our “on tap” events, we wanted to blend together fun and education, and

not shy away from talking about real data or results as is practised in other cities. We’ve seen

for ourselves that non-scientists are perfectly capable of asking scientific questions so long as

the presentations are accessible, and we think we’ve been able to walk the line of accessibility

and rigour successfully, given the strong levels of excitement we received in our feedback in the

comment cards, on social media, and, most importantly, live, at the events themselves.

Budget Narrative



Venue Rentals






Facebook advertising


Chalkboard sign


Printing & nametags


Total $2,931.68 Available funds $3,000.00 



The staff at The Spice Factory have been very helpful in setting up their venue to specifically cater to our needs. We need a projector, a mic, and a mix of seating room and standing room as well as easy access to the light snacks available at the side of the room. They very much helped shape the design of the floor plan for our events and this collaboration made Science on Tap Hamilton the great success it is.