Ready, Set, Play

Adults Enjoy a Night of Fun at the Hands on Children’s Museum

By Sara Fabian

We’ve all experienced the joys of being a kid. With no responsibilities, other than making sure you push every elevator door button, dirty every white shirt, stare aimlessly in a sandbox, and play with every toy imaginable. A carefree childhood is something we often crave, but rarely revisit. Fortunately for you, Olympia’s Hands On Children’s Museum has a neverland waiting, their Adult Swim series.

On Friday, Feb. 12, the museum opened it’s to doors to the adults of Olympia, not just school related field trips or parents with kids during its normal hours. Adult Swim honors the public pool tradition of kicking the kids out so adults can have the space to themselves.

With a growing attendance, these 21-and-up events provide the greater olympia community the opportunity to play for the evening—crawling, sliding, and dancing their way through the museum. Beer, themed cocktails, soft drinks, and snacks from local eateries are made to pair well with your inner child as you get to freely roam the museum, immersing yourself in exciting and educational activities.

I have been to one other Adult Swim event, which occurred last spring, and even in this short time, the museum has exceeded my expectations, that were already high. Event Coordinator Jillian Haze says, ”We try really hard to make sure the community feels comfortable and most importantly has fun!”

The Adult Swim series has been a part of the community since January 2014 and each event outdoes the the last, whether it’s the museum’s growing relationships with local food and drink vendors or their engaged and enthusiastic staff, eager to share new scientific knowledge.

The theme of this Valentine’s Day weekend Adult Swim was Love & Magnets, and it was all about feeling the love with its activities centered around the chemistry of attraction. The museum opened its doors at 7 p.m., I arrived at 7:30 p.m. and the event was already in full swing. Dozens of museum-goers ate delicious food at local food truck, Boka Island Fusion, parked just outside. Inside the museum was transformed into an adult amusement park, while still keeping the interactive kitchen, ambulance/E.R. room, and two story slide, open to all.

Every room was filled with people all there to discover the unseen forces of attraction with matchmaking experts from Seattle based dating App Siren, who created a fun food and dipping sauces matching game that was a big hit, and biologists from Oly Mega who gave us an accessible glimpse of electromagnetism.

The pirate ship located near the main entrance was now a stage for local funk band DBST to blast their psychedelic grooves. In addition to the yummy Hawaiian food, every museum attendee was given tokens for a complimentary cocktail or beverage, and awesome snacks provided by Batdorf and Bronson and Abby’s Cupcakes. We even picked up some cool information on the history and myth-making of aphrodisiacs.

Upstairs, the second floor was utilized to it’s fullest with arts and crafts like screen printing shirts, constructing and decorating angler fish headbands, which are those cool looking with a light bulb shaped antenna dangling over their heads. Other spaces were dedicated to animal mating trivia, experimenting with gravitational pull, and playing with static electricity. Some guests meandered outside for some fresh air and watched as others got to really channel their inner 12 year old and get stuck to a Velcro wall, for scientific purposes obviously.

A few of the more memorable events of the evening were activities such as “Sexy Talk,” where two people sat at a table and were given headphones that played six phrases said by female and male voices at different pitches. After you heard a male and female voice, you put a check next to voice of your preference. Another one of my favorites was a very punny activity called “Love Stinks” where you were given a brief description on why love stinks, literally, since pheromones give us clues to genetic compatibility. We found out that a selected part of the Children’s Museum staff anonymously had worn a white t-shirt to bed every night for a week prior to the event, each morning they were to enclose their shirt in a ziploc bag and repeat. The night of the Adult Swim event, the ziploc bags were on full display and each of us got a taste of their wondrous body odor. We got to feel, see, and literally smell the pheromones they were giving off. I was immediately drawn to one bag in particular that smelled of pine cones.

The night was a booming success. I can’t help but think about how exciting is it to experience social science in a new way — with no classroom, or dull exhibits, and at night. It’s almost as if, when lights go down, our imaginations are in charge! “This is a great way for us to reach out to a part of the community that may not have had a reason to come to the museum before,” said one museum volunteer.

Adult swim events happen about three times a years so they are a rare and beautiful experience. A perfect date night or fun evening with friends, I would suggest coming to their next event in the Adult Swim series called Beer Craft, to explore the museum after hours, filled with innovative experiments, current research, signature cocktails, dynamic performances, engaging discussions, amazing inventions, and intriguing interactions!

To learn more about what will be happening or plan which events you’d like to go to visit In addition, the Children’s museum is always looking for college interns and museum volunteers for their events.