Founding Members

crime bones

Teens try their skills at matching bones to a crime victim!

Founding Members Program Plans

Our Founding Members share a National Science Foundation grant to demonstrate how a model Café Scientifique program tailored for high school teens can be adapted for a wide variety of local situations. Six Founding Members have established an initial active Teen Science Café Network linking locations across the United States.

Discovery Teen Science Café

Science Discovery, founded in 1983, is the University of Colorado’s signature K-12 science education outreach program. Its mission is to increase literacy in STEM by providing hands-on experiences that engage students in the scientific process and connect them to current science. Science Discovery capitalizes on local scientific resources, facilities, and expertise to excite students about science, expose them to a variety of scientists and science careers, and inspire a future generation of scientists and engineers. Science Discovery offers programs that serve K-12 students and teachers throughout Colorado, including summer classes, after-school and day-off programs, field science programs, classroom presentations, and teacher workshops. These programs span a range of scientific disciplines and reach more than 1,000 teachers and 30,000 students each year.

Boulder is an ideal setting for implementing the Teen Café model. Home to the University of Colorado, three national labs (NOAA, NCAR, and NIST), and numerous institutes (e.g., CIRES, INSTAAR, RASEI), it has a large pool of scientists to draw from. The State has growing opportunities in science and technology, including aerospace engineering, renewable energy, and biotechnology, yet has challenges meeting its workforce needs. As a result, there is a growing need to develop students’ interest in science, expose them to scientific careers, and connect them to current science and technology in the State. The Teen Café model is ideal for this purpose as one of our founding members.

Science Discovery’s extensive network of faculty and national lab partners will ensure a rich selection of Café presenters. Science Discovery will collaborate with two community partners – CLACE (Centro Latino Américano para las Artes, Ciencia y Educación) and Casa de la Esperanza – to hold teen cafés in Boulder and Longmont. Both organizations are based at community learning centers in low-income housing developments, and both have focused on STEM as a way to educate and inspire their predominantly Latino communities. These two organizations will host the monthly Cafés (eight per year) and will help us recruit and stay connected with teens. CU’s Office of University Outreach maintains a thorough and well utilized website, and will promote Café activities via this venue. Science Discovery is an active partner in several local networks, including iSTEM, the Boulder Area STEM Education Coalition, and the Colorado Science Education Network, and will capitalize on these networks to recruit scientists and students and promote events. Key K-12 partners, including Boulder Valley School District’s Science Research Seminar for high school students and Skyline High School’s STEM Academy in Longmont, will provide additional support in recruiting teens.

Each year, Science Discovery will coordinate two Café events each month, September through April, with the same presenter in Boulder and Longmont. Science Discovery will assist presenters in developing hands-on activities for the Cafés, and will share these activities with the Teen Café Network. With support from CU colleague Dr. Ryan Vachon (INSTAAR), teen leaders will film Café events for online dissemination. Science Discovery staff and teen leaders will build on the best practices developed within the Teen Café network in recruiting and preparing scientists, sharing Café presentations online, and capitalizing on social media tools to create a teen science Café community.

FL Teen SciCafé

The Florida Teen SciCafé partnership among Secrets of the Sea Marine Exploration Center and Aquarium, St. Petersburg, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, the St. Petersburg Ocean Team, the Florida Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE-FL) and the Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Sarasota counties school districts will implement the Teen Café model with a marine science theme. The St. Petersburg Ocean Team, one of the largest hubs of marine scientists and engineers in the SE United States, will provide a rich source of Café presenters on the many fascinating aspects of ocean science. The Teen Café will emulate The Pier Aquarium’s highly successful adult SciCafé, created in 2009 as part of its mission to provide community marine education. It will satisfy the request of members, partners, and donors to establish a thematic teen science Café in West Central Florida.

Seven Cafés will be held at the Pier Aquarium, Florida Aquarium, and Mote with grant support in years 1 and 2. The program will be sustained in subsequent years at this level with local patron support. The local partners will leverage existing relationships with the region’s school districts, private institutions, and home school partners to advertise the Florida Teen SciCafé and recruit a teen audience. While teen participation from the aquaria docent programs, marine science and environmental clubs, and magnet programs at Lakewood and Countyside High Schools is assured, the program will target all high schools in the region, including those in underserved communities, to ensure the program is inclusive.

COSEE Florida’s Boot Camp program for training scientists in effective communication will be conducted at this node in year 1, with Advanced Boot Camp programs to be offered in years 2 and 3. The year 1 program will be supported by COSEE Florida at no cost to our program. Interested core partners will participate in the Year 1 Boot Camp, along with interested scientists from the Florida area.

Gateway Teen Science Café

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), Center for STEM Research, Education, and Outreach works with formal and informal learning organizations on both sides of the Mississippi River in the St. Louis region to expand STEM educational opportunities for children and youth. The Center also promotes STEM through public outreach that raises awareness and public understanding of STEM issues relevant to society. The Center will lead a partnership with East St. Louis Upward Bound, St. Louis Academy of Science, and the St. Louis Science Center to develop, facilitate, and sustain adaptations of the Café model in the St. Louis region with a focus on urban African American teens. The Café will operate monthly in East St. Louis and at two sites in St. Louis.

The region has a rich array of science-based organizations from which to recruit presenters: several universities (Washington University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis University, Harris Stowe University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Webster University), the St. Louis Zoo, Missouri Botanical Gardens, Danforth Plant Center, National Center for Corn-to-Ethanol Research, Boeing Corporation, Monsanto, and Scott Air Force Base. World-class research ranging from medical innovations to biofuels to conservation biology is carried out at these organizations.

The St. Louis Regional STEM Coalition, composed of representatives from SIUE, Washington University, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and the St. Louis Science Center, and other active STEM organizations recently analyzed the local STEM pipeline to provide investment guidance to St. Louis’s major STEM corporate donors. The data indicate that youth programming to improve awareness, interest, and preparation for STEM careers is needed, in line with the goals of the Teen Café Network. Through its influence with corporate donors, the coalition is a powerful means for growing and sustaining the Café network in St. Louis and for acquiring private sector sponsorship in the long term. It is also a mechanism to recruit more local partners to host Cafés.

NC Open Minds Café

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) in Raleigh, NC was founded in 1879 as the first state museum and is now the largest museum of its kind in the Southeast. Featuring an array of permanent and special exhibits, live programs and educational films that appeal to audiences of all ages, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences encourages visitors to explore the natural world and their connections to it. One of its missions is to engage the public in understanding the scientific research that affects their daily lives, and it is the only science museum in North Carolina with a full-time research staff.

In April 2012, the NCMNS opened a new wing, the Nature Research Center (NRC). It is an 80,000 square foot facility that serves as a public research laboratory for both local and global science. The NRC has partnered with government agencies, universities, international organizations, corporations, and private foundations to give the public access to an innovative venue for exploring advances in science. The NRC houses five state-of-the-art research laboratories in which visitors can observe “science in action.” Visitors also participate in hands-on scientific exercises in the laboratories, and interactive exhibits reveal the latest advances in science.

Teens are an important audience for the NCMNS and became even more integral to its programming when the NRC opened. Since 1978, they have had a Junior Curator program in which teens assist with exhibit animal care and participate in field experiences. This program has been very successful and is highly regarded in the community. In anticipation of the start of a Teen Science Café program, a Teen Advisory Board was established to provide NCMNS staff feedback on reaching a teen audience in its programming and exhibits and to serve as the youth leadership team for the Teen Science Café program. As in the New Mexico model, the Teen Advisory Board meets regularly to provide feedback for potential speakers and to help with Café logistics. The NCMNS will also use its contacts with educators across the state in the promotion of the program among their students.

The NC Open Minds Teen Science Café program will operate monthly in the NRC in Raleigh and at two partner locations: the Museum of Forestry in Whiteville and the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill. Presenters will be recruited from contacts made through the NCMNS adult Science Café program, other adult Science Cafés in Durham and Chapel Hill, the researchers in the NRC laboratories, NCMNS Research & Collections staff, local universities such as Duke, UNC, and NCSU, and other local research centers such as NESCent.

Seattle Teen Science Café

The Pacific Science Center‘s mission is to inspire a lifelong interest in science, math, and technology by engaging diverse communities through interactive and innovative exhibits and programs; it has been inspiring creative, critical thinking among Seattle Washington residents and global visitors for the nearly 50 years since the 1962 World’s Fair. PSC will partner in the Teen Café Network by combining the successes of its own Science Café program and its teen-focused Discovery Corps program. PSC’s teen network will be organized by and designed for local teens and build on its existing relationships between local research partners and Discovery Corps. PSC will join the Teen Café Network in year 2 to allow for further program and partnership development and to accommodate its 2012 50th anniversary programs.

Discovery Corps places volunteering and working high school students interested in gaining job and life skills on the front line of Pacific Science Center’s mission by providing visitors with a unique interactive experience on the museum floor. Discovery Corps youth play a lead role during prototyping sessions, giving our scientists in the Fellows program critical feedback on their communication skills and hands-on activity, much the same as in the New Mexico program. Through the Teen Café Network, PSC will be able to expand its reach beyond the handfuls of teens that currently come to the adult Science Café.

PSC brings its own partnerships to the network. Pacific Science Center has partnered with KCTS 9 Public Radio since the beginning of its Science Café program. They provide programming and marketing support prior to events, A/V equipment and expertise at events, and a free online video archive. Science and science education are major initiatives for KCTS. PSC’s relationships with research institutions like the University of Washington and the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research and hundreds of one-time volunteers at Research Weekends provide a broad pool of potential speakers. Other potential partners are the Seattle Public Library and PSC’s Science Café advocates.

Founding Members