Science Matters: A Great Addition to Your Lunchtime Menu

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Imagine learning on lunch break that maps can’t be trusted – not even Google maps – or that some textile blends, and the dyes that make them so attractive, are poisonous to the factory workers who produce them.

Since September 2019, thousands of people have attended Science Matters, a monthly brown bag lunch series co-hosted by the Kansas City Public Library and the Linda Hall Library. Guest speakers have covered those lying maps, “fast fashion,” animal behavior, city planning, water treatment, baseball analytics, and a wide variety of other scientific topics, all in a local or regional context.

Linda Hall, one of the world’s leading independent science research libraries, hosts about 70 programs a year, typically evening events.

Vice President for Public Programs Eric Ward says, “I had always thought that having a downtown location would be great for a lunchtime series.” He imagined workers detouring with their take-out to the Central Library at 14 W. 10th Street.

Teresa Bolton, the Kansas City Public Library’s director of Central Library operations, liked the idea. She and Ward have partnered on the program ever since and kept up a near-constant volley of emails about how to find a scientist who’ll explain roller coaster engineering or the chemistry of fireworks.

“Our goal,” Ward says, “is to provide a forum for the curious public to learn more about what’s happening in their communities. And the informal nature of the events creates engaging, interactive conversations.”

And that’s working – the response to the series has been big, drawing 100 or more curious Kansas Citians for each talk and, during the pandemic when events were virtual, sometimes as many as 400 viewers.

Now, the series is back in person every third Wednesday of the month. For information about upcoming speakers and other Linda Hall events, sign up for their newsletter here.

Watch Past Science Matters Event Online