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Five Local Lectures That'll Stretch Your Brain in November

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Given: The Valley's most notable (and mocked) institution of higher education gets a bad rap as a party school for beer-bonging bros and their bleach-blond female counterparts. And if you've been fooled by the mockery on The Daily Show or the misspellings on local protest signs, it's time to change your mind -- the Phoenix metro area is home to a huge community of brainiacs.

These individuals have bookish pastimes, like discussions about electromagnetism and attending science fairs for fun. For the average human, these activities may sound neither fun nor stimulating. And lucky for them, there are plenty of other ways to up their IQs ... and attending lectures is one of them. 

Whether you're looking to become an expert on a subject or just want to have something to wow your pals with over drinks, here are five lectures for aspiring poindexters during November.

5. "A Treasure from the Moon: ASU Welcomes Apollo Sample 15555"
During Earth and Space Exploration Day at ASU's Tempe Campus on Saturday, November 5, faculty research associate and member of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Team, Samuel Lawrence will discuss lunar sample 15555, which was retrieved by the Apollo 15 crew. Lawrence's talk coincides with the unveiling of the small moon rock, which will be on view in the Interdisciplinary A building for at least the next five years. Get spacey starting at 9 a.m. outside the Bateman Physical Sciences F-Wing. The lecture is at 11 a.m. Admission is free.

4. "Dangerous Dirt"
The Arizona Science Center hosts ASU associate professor Doug Lake for a lecture on Valley Fever. Get the dirty dish on
acute coccidioidomycosis on November 11, from 7 to 8 p.m. This discussion is part of an ongoing series at the Science Center that continues through May, and includes opportunities for attendees to ask questions. Admission is free.

3. "So You Want to Start a Community Garden"

Valley Permaculture Alliance hosts this informative lecture on the ins and outs of community gardening, from conceptualizing to realization. Whether you're embarking on a big project, or just want to start a small garden with some pals, the talk will cover key topics like organization, garden management, and what to expect before getting dirt on your smarty pants.
Get gardening on Tuesday, November 15, at 6 p.m. at the Tempe Transportation Center. There is a suggested donation of $15.

2. "The Making of a Fashion Designer"
Author John Tiffany will discuss the work and influence of public relations pro Eleanor Lambert at Phoenix Art Museum on Wednesday, November 16, at 7 p.m. Lambert is largely credited with putting American fashion on the map at a time when Parisian couture reigned supreme. With clients like Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta, Lambert forged a path for their designs on runways around the world. Tiffany will also sign his book, Eleanor Lambert: Still Here. Admission is free.

1. "Birds 'n Beer"
Every third Thursday, nature buffs and novices alike can take in a lecture on the outdoors, with a focus on Arizona birds and wildlife at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center. Sip a brew (courtesy of Four Peaks) and maybe learn a bird call -- or at least how to identify an avian life form other than a pigeon. Combine your love of beer with a need for knowledge at 5:30 p.m. on November 17, which will be the last lecture in this free series until 2012.

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