The second Teen Science Cafe Network Annual Workshop was a great success, a fun learning experience for all who attended. Here is an overview of the workshop. Visit our resource-rich online agenda for the workshop to learn more.
It almost felt like summer camp. The anticipation for the Teen Science Café Network workshop grew higher and higher the closer we got to August. We didn’t know what to expect. Sure, we had the agenda and schedules before hand, but what did it all really mean? Who were we going to meet? Where in the world is Albuquerque? What am I going to take away from four days of a workshop?
Then the day finally arrived. Members from all across the country poured into the southwest city of Albuquerque and were transported to the Doubletree Hotel in the heart of downtown. After meeting a few of the Network Resource Center staff in the lobby, there was a chance for most to catch their breath before the opening evening session of the 2016 Annual Workshop.
It was a quick trip from the Doubletree to the Explora! museum, our host for the week. Just like at a Teen Science Café, we walked in not knowing what to expect, with a group of people we didn’t know. As soon as we entered the building, the aroma of food and the sound of laughter made the mood comfortable. A New Mexican buffet style dinner was waiting, and we were able to start meeting people with different backgrounds.
A TSCN-style café on Synthetic Biology lead to a very great discussion. We were able to witness what makes a Teen Science Café so great, different ideas, persectives and conversations on the future benefits and concerns about “syn bio” took over, and before you knew it, time was up
Just like death and taxes, or having that one mean camp counselor, you can expect at least one technical difficulty and travel issue. We were able to experience both with the first session of the day. Due to an airline computer glitch, Kirk Astroth from the University of Arizona was not able to get out of Tucson to attend, and the normally reliable video conferencing system the Resource Center uses didn’t want to work. Luckily, it was a very minor delay that gave everyone a chance to catch up on their email, and then the session was off.
After a quick refreshment break, it was time to learn more about our colleagues who were attending the workshop with a calling card (i.e. poster) session. It’s amazing to see how people living coast to coast shared similar ideas, but had different approaches to how they run a café program.
After lunch, sessions on creating the atmosphere and experiences of cafés, and evaluating our programs inspired our afternoon. Members were able to seek out dinner on their own and took advantage by filling restaurants and exploring the Land of Enchantment. From downtown to Old Town, and the University area to uptown, plenty of New Mexican fare was consumed.
Like the two days before, Tuesday was filled with morning sessions that included building partnerships, communications and marketing, using social media and technology. Plenty to think about, and a few laughs along the way.
After lingering too long in conversation over lunch (thanks, Back Street Grill) it was time to turn our entire focus on POPNET Training. This training was interactive, which was perfect for our short time gathered in one place instead of all over the country.
The final day of the workshop offered us the chance to dig deeper into our own cafés to see where we could implement the ideas we learned and work on areas of concern. It also offered a great chance to reinforce the importance of the POPNET Training.
Much like the last day of camp, the last day of the workshop was met with mixed emotions. Yeah, we’re glad to be going home, but we will miss our new friends and all the excitement; but we will go out now and hit the ground running. A new café season is here, and it’s time to put these ideas and excitement into our programs to make sure we can be the positive influence in a whole bunch of teens’ lives.