Reply To: Issues for Teen Cafes in rural/small-town regions

Showcase Forums Teen Science Cafe Workshop Discussion 2015 Issues for Teen Cafes in rural/small-town regions Reply To: Issues for Teen Cafes in rural/small-town regions

Vicki DiMuzio

Vicki DiMuzio here from North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville. We are an original TSC node in our 3rd year of Cafes. We are located in a poor rural community. For us, being affiliated with NCMNS in Raleigh, which is in the Research Triangle and a truly amazing facility, was huge our first season, as they provided scientists for us. The difficult part was the 2+ hour drive.
In seeking to bring in speakers closer to home, I did what Michelle suggested in the above reply. I looked for professionals in our area that fit my teens’ interests. This not only brought in community involvement, but allowed the teens to see actual professions that are relevant to our area. They also then have a contact for possible volunteering or job shadowing. Thus far we have tapped into our county sheriff’s department, local forest rangers, environmental teacher/specialist, karate school, emergency department, and most recently went on a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of our local hospital (see blog post, once I remember how to post it); and we are really just starting to tap in to our community resources!
Also, in an effort to continue to bring in scientists doing research, our location gives us access, within an hour, to two of our University of North Carolina branches. Given that most of their research is funded by grants, the majority of these scientists are required to do a certain amount of community outreach programming. These institutions, as well as our local Community College, are where a good number of local teens that do attend college will end up enrolling. Therefore, the teens get exposure to cutting edge science as well as some ideas for relevant areas of study for their future from close to home. Cafe topics from this resource thus far have been: Biomimicry, Micropropagation, Facial Aging and Recognition technology, and a visit from the Weightless Lumbees, a group of college students who were awarded a grant through NASA to perform an experiment they designed in a zero gravity environment.
All this being said, living in a small, rural community does have its advantages. Although my teen group is fairly small, our average number is 15, we are able to have excellent hands-on/interactive activities and more personal interaction with our speakers and each other. My teen leaders are truly invested in the Cafes because they understand they are part of something very unique and exciting in our community. This attitude comes across to our speakers who all have commented that they would come back any time to present at future Cafes. My hope is that our Teen Science Cafe is able to plant seeds of interest in the teens that participate such that they are better equipped to answer the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

check out recent videos posted by Wallyce Todd, a local newspaper reporter regarding the TSC’s in Whiteville: If you start at 1:38 it shows an interview of some of the teen leaders and participants talking about TSC.

  • This reply was modified 6 years, 4 months ago by Vicki DiMuzio.