Reply To: Lull in excitement before the Café "starts"

Showcase Forums Teen Science Cafe Workshop Discussion 2015 Lull in excitement before the Café "starts" Reply To: Lull in excitement before the Café "starts"

Meghan McFail

Creating a lively, interactive atmosphere prior to cafes has been a learning curve in Taos, NM. I can offer some suggestions that teen leaders and I have used to improve on the pre-cafe experience. First, playing music prior to the cafe is helpful. I have one of my teen leaders who is particularly familiar with music create an appropriate playlist. We connect it to the main speakers and turn the volume up loud enough to create a “club” beat but quiet enough to allow for verbal exchange. This season we’ve implemented a photo booth. We’ve gathered silly props, several related to science, and set aside a corner of the room for it. Our media committee takes on the responsibility of taking photos and sharing on FB. It adds levity to the overall experience. Third, and this may sound odd.. one of our speakers this year requested incense to add to his lecture of ecological expeditions in Mongolia. Feedback from attendees was positive and not sought out. I assume many cafes are held in rather stiff atmospheres such as college classrooms and libraries. The teen leaders and I are trying new avenues to alter the atmosphere so it is more relaxed and doesn’t remind students of a typical educational setting. From PR and sales experience I’ve found that stimulating the senses is key. Where possible and appropriate set a party ambiance. Stimulate their senses — visual, auditory, and olfactory. Add color wherever possible — signage, tablecloths, even consider the how the mixture and color of food adds to the look of the table. Pump up the volume, put your most outgoing and social teen(s) at the sign in table and stand back. My teen leaders don’t want their peers to have a lame experience. They know what’s cool — I don’t. If their classmates are coming and their reputation is at stake they’ll go the extra mile. Give them access to the program’s funding, let them make decisions to improve the experience and allow for them to learn from their failures.