Tampa Theatre to host Wow in the World Pop Up Party

Kids and grownups, cue the silly STEM: NPR’s Wow in the World is headed to Tampa. An April 6 celebration of science and curiosity, the Wow in the World Pop Up Party brings host Mindy Thomas and the band the Pop Ups to Tampa Theatre for a live version of the popular podcast. For Thomas, a former Tampa resident, the event promises to be especially memorable.

“I visited the Theatre on field trips as a child, and I wish I could tell my fifth-grade self that someday she’d be up on that stage doing a show as silly as it is smart,” she says.

Thomas moved to the Carrollwood neighborhood of Tampa when she was 8; years later, while enrolled at the University of South Florida, she would begin her on-air career at local stations such as WFLA and 93.3FM. Tampa radio holds a special place in her heart, she says. So too does the podcast, which requires her to connect with her inner child on a regular basis. Though she didn’t grow up with an affinity for science, Wow in the World doesn’t exactly portray science the old-fashioned way.

Since its debut in May 2017, Thomas and podcast co-host Guy Raz have consistently delivered the newest scientific research from peer-reviewed journals in a manner that is rip-roaringly funny. One need only look at past titles to get the idea: Two-Headed Space Worms, The Zen of Video Games, and Now Watch Me Drip Drip: The Science of Slower Melting Ice Cream are recent additions to the show queue.

“I’m a huge believer in playful learning,” Thomas says. “We teach kids in an engaging way.”

Tampa’s young audience members, described as “Wowzers,” will have a chance to be randomly selected as ‘lab assistants’ and ‘game show contestants’ before the the event, which launches at 1 p.m. Expect the Pop Ups, who created the podcast’s theme song, to add plenty of science-inspired tunes to the mix.

To Thomas, the real-life application of science is not just obvious; it’s often comical. Hopefully, she says, the show will inspire the scientists and astronauts of tomorrow -- and teach their parents a few things along the way.

Field trips like the ones that inspired Thomas as a child are still highlights on Tampa Bay Area school calendars, says Jill Witecki, Tampa Theatre’s director of marketing and community relations. For many children, these outings serve as an introduction to live theatre; the small stage creates a cozy, accessible viewing experience. The historic theatre known for its art house films beckons multiple generations to enjoy family events as well.

“We’re creating the new generation of Tampa Theatre fans,” Witecki says.

The Wow in the World Pop Up Party fits seamlessly into the venue’s 2019 programming. A highlight is the free parkCINEMA series that invites Tampanians of all ages to break out those picnic baskets and enjoy movie screenings at local parks. Recently, the theatre also featured CinemaSTEM, a series that pairs popular movies with expert speakers to explain how STEM concepts in each film apply to real life.

Get your STEM on, Tampa

When Mindy Thomas visits Tampa with her two small children, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is a favorite destination.

Planning a trip to MOSI?

Visit the Connectus exhibit and learn about new technologies at work in Tampa Bay. Register budding scientists for summer camps that range from ‘Cool Chemistry’ to ‘Robot Rampage.’ Plan a day to conquer the 100+ hands-on museum activities, and immerse aspiring astronauts in solar system glee inside the Saunders Planetarium. Find all the information you need at http://mosi.org.

As Mindy says, “Kids are the future of science and exploration. Let’s make it fun for them!” MOSI does exactly that.

Pop Up party information

Searching for tickets to the Wow in the World Pop Up Party? Visit the Franklin Street Box Office or visit the Tampa Theatre website, where you can view information about upcoming live events and film screenings as well. For more information about the podcast, Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas, and to learn how to stream Wow in the World, visit https://tinkercast.com/shows/wow-in-the-world/. Listen to the thrice grammy nominated band the Pop Ups here.

Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a feature writer for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida
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