Getting the word out

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    Alyson Saunders

    Teen Science Cafe for ME! is based in Maine and now has two established cafe programs, one is central Maine (rural) and the other is Downeast coastal (also rural). The central Maine one (that I run) serves three communities of several thousand and many smaller outlying communities of several hundred. We move from town to town to help even out the travel time (typically 30 min one way) of our YLT and the attending youth.

    For other “rural” communities hosting Cafes, what have you found to be the most effective ways of getting youth through the door? It takes a lot of time to build posters/fliers and sometimes the YLT is not very effective at hanging them. Our YLT doesn’t have a dedicated Facebook Page (only one for the project that the TSC is a part of) or any twitter access (no one up here uses it from what I can tell) and the website we tried got 0 hits for our first 6 months and 3 cafes.

    Do you build email lists? Have the YLT commit to bringing a certain number of friends? Do Facebook events? I’m looking to explore all options with an eye for biggest “bang for our buck!” Thank you.

    Alyson Saunders

    Sean Herberts

    I know that the teens at the Cahokia High School site of the Gateway cafes had a “marketing committee” that was responsible for getting the word out. I don’t know if they ended up hanging the posters or if their teachers did, but they did initially develop strategies for flier placement based on high-traffic areas as part of one YLT planning meeting. If you have kids attending from multiple schools, it may also help to identify and send fliers electronically to some enthusiastic STEM teachers and administrators there. Just be sure to make your fliers black/white printer friendly – the schools usually don’t mind printing as long as it doesn’t have to be in color.

    Some other ideas:

    • Marketing by having all YLT members wear Teen Cafe shirts for a few days before the event
    • Having YLT members (again, potentially members of a marketing committee) announce the event one week and a few days in a row before the morning announcements at their school
    • Teens in Cahokia hosted a table at lunch advertising the event. Your teens could even give away cheap candy to people who listened to their pitch and walked away with information
    • Having parents of teens attending the cafe provide email or a number to be texted at if they would like to hear about future events. I believe that there are free mass texting services online that do not reveal your phone number – I’d need to look into that again
    • Setting up a raffle or randomly selecting teens that sign up to receive information or “like” your facebook page

    I hope that these helped!

    Ann Boes

    We’ve only done one Cafe so far but it was very well attended – 25+ youth. What worked for us was cultivating a relationship with teachers at several schools in the area. The middle school teachers were excited about the opportunity. They really talked it up to their students and then emailed after the event to let us know that they had the students who attended stand up in class the next day and talk about it. They loved it and wanted to know when the next one would be. They shared it with colleagues as well who promoted it in their classes.
    TSC at Lab:Revolution

    Lawrence Norris

    This is a very useful article via EduWeek.
    4 Ways to Get Students Interested in Extracurricular Clubs
    1. Think Like a Salesman
    2. Customize and Redefine
    3. Develop Student Leadership
    4. Build Traditions

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