What is a Teen Science Café?
A series of free, fun, out-of-school events where teens get to socialize over food and refreshments and have the opportunity to talk with local scientists and engineers about current cutting-edge ideas in science and technology, all in a relaxed and informal (out-of-school) setting.
Teen Science Cafés are for teens, by teens. A core group of Teen Leaders, with the committed mentorship of an adult, plan and run the café themselves. They make welcome as diverse of a teen crowd as possible—diverse in ethnicity, culture, gender, and motivations for learning about science. Teen Science Cafés are not just for the science geeks; they are for all curious teens. Along the way, teen organizers gain a host of leadership skills.
Cafés are typically 1-1.5 hours, once per each month during the school year, with an additional Teen Leader planning meeting before each café.
What is the Teen Science Café Network?
We are a nation-wide web of organizations that offer Teen Science Café programs.
Examples: libraries | museums | 4-H clubs | colleges | STEM education organizations
Boys & Girls Clubs | aquariums & zoos | after school clubs | committed individuals
We are also a community of practice that provides the highest quality resources, guidance, and support to individuals and organizations that wish to implement a teen science café. All of our members are committed to help one another continually improve the Teen Science Café experiences and their impacts.
How do I become a member of the Teen Science Café Network?
We encourage any organization that wishes to form a Teen Science Café to request membership in the network. Feel free to contact us to chat in person about the café program model, what you would need to do get things started, and what Network membership entails.
Membership is free! You will be warmly welcomed and strongly supported. You do NOT have to have already held a café before applying for membership; we will mentor you through the startup process and beyond. Within a few days of submitting the online form we will be in touch via email. Our Guide to Starting a Teen Science Café can be found in the Resources section of this website.
There are three simple requirements for membership: members agree to 1) construct their program around six Core Design Principles, 2) annually share a progress report of their program with the Network, and 3) annually provide some basic evaluation data including numbers and demographics compiled from attendance information you collect at each Café. All members are also encouraged to share their café experiences with other cafés via submitting a Cool Café summary, emailing resources you have created to firstname.lastname@example.org, and by participating in such things as webinars and Network photo-contests. This is a community in which we support each other’s efforts.
Members can also gain and share best practices via our blog, our annual in-person Members’ Workshop, and our regular teleconferences and webinars.
Contact us to chat about the idea! email@example.com
Origins of the Teen Science Café Network
Science Cafés (for adults) have been engaging people from all walks of life and scientists in conversation on interesting science topics in highly social settings since they were established in England in the 1990s. Their popularity led to rapid spread throughout the world.
In 2007, Science Education Solutions received a grant from the National Science Foundation, and began an experiment to see if the adult science café model could be adapted to appeal to high school teens. The program, Café Scientifique New Mexico, became very popular with teens in four towns of diverse character across northern New Mexico.
The blend of conversing with scientists about interesting science topics in an out-of-school social setting and digging deeper with hands on activities was the hook. The teen Café Scientifique New Mexico model was refined through trial and error and formal evaluation over several years. Today it continues to provide teens with a new perspective on the nature of science and a picture of scientists as real people leading interesting lives. The program has proven to be a rich—and fun—complement to the science they learn in the classroom.
The Teen Science Café Network was formed in 2012 with NSF funding to allow other individuals and organizations to start their own versions of the Teen Science Café, adapted to their local institutions and demographics. Five founding member organizations around the United States formed the initial Network and each began creating their own Teen Science Café programs. New members are welcome!
Interested? Contact Us!