Nerds are everywhere. They’re in your classes, they’re hiding behind your friends (or they are your friends). And they like to have fun. Let’s be real, you wouldn’t be at Penn unless you had some nerdy element to you. You rant to your friend about some article you read or actually kind of like doing that one problem set. For those times you want to geek out but also have a beer or two, the Philly nerd scene has got you covered. We found some nerdy events and groups—pretty much all free—to get you started.

Science and Lightbulb Café

When you walk into World Café Live for one of these hour–long talks you’ll find yourself greeted by a packed house and warm atmosphere, clearly not your average research symposium. The brick–and–mortar location of 88.5 WXPN, Penn’s rock, folk and blues radio station, has hosted these monthly events for years. They all feature Penn faculty performing cutting–edge research. The Science Café subjects vary widely, including friendship and your brain, the public understanding of evolution and the effect of climate change in Mongolia. The Lightbulb Cafés focus on the social sciences, arts and humanities. The next lecture, February 9th, has Peter Decherney speaking about Hollywood’s domination of the film industry

Where: World Café Live, 3025 Walnut Street

When: Two Tuesdays a month, 6 p.m.

Next Event: February 9th, “Hollywood’s Past and Future”

Nerd Nite

When Chris Balakrishnan, a Penn alum getting his Ph.D. in Boston, returned from a trip to study birds in southeast Asia in 2003, he found himself retelling his story over and over again as more friends showed up at the bar one night. The bartender eventually came over and told him to just give one big presentation to all his friends another night. And so Nerd Nite began. They’ve been happening in Philly for six years, and are currently held at Frankford Hall. 

People get there at 6:30 p.m. to drink, eat and hang before the main event. There are three talks total, each around 20 minutes. In between, you can get another drink or talk to the speaker while listening to local music. The talks vary from pop culture–like Archie comics–to science and history. One time all three speakers were NASA themed. Philly grad students and young professionals, among others, come every week to have a good time and walk away feeling like they’ve learned something.

Where: Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Avenue

When: The first Wednesday of every month, 7:30 p.m.

Next Event: March 2nd

Philadelphia Science Society

If you ever want a new crew to hang out with, check out to find your new niche. That’s what some science enthusiasts did, and they became the Philadelphia Science Society. It’s essentially just a forum for people to publicize cool science talks and events happening around the city. At the end of the day, it has created a great place to meet people with similar interests in an environment that doesn’t necessitate pointless small talk before diving into fun, scientific conversations. To hear about more events around Philly and make some new friends, check out their Facebook page.

More events to check out:

Science on Tap: The second Monday of every month at the National Mechanics bar. 

  • Next event: February 8th, Forensic Autopsy “Hot Lights, Sharp Steel, Cold Flesh.”

Mütter Museum Events: The events at this museum of medical oddities are not for the faint of heart. 

  • Next event: February 20th, Creating Etchings from the Mütter Museum’s Collections.

Franklin Institute: Monthly “Science After Hours” events for the more drunken science fun, and speaker series for a more casual, less alcoholic science fun. 

  • Next open event: Vaccines: To Mandate or Not (featuring CHOP’s chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases.


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