Invitation to Participate in Rural Teen Science Café Research Project


We are launching an NSF project to build a rural network of Teen Science Cafés. We are seeking 15 adult leaders who live in rural areas to conduct research on effective STEM programming, specifically TSCs, in rural areas.  As you know, rural areas have significant strengths, but also unique challenges. If you are living or working in a rural area, we would like you to consider applying to be part of this project.


What does participation mean?   

You will be doing innovative research to understand issues of isolation for informal STEM educators working with rural students involved in TSCs. The isolation can manifest from having communities that are spread thinly over a large area, or simply the isolation adult leaders may experience because of the lack of a local STEM ecosystem that can provide support. The work we want to conduct includes: i) identifying and documenting local STEM conditions, resources, and challenges; ii) working with peers and Hall/Mokros to systematically test new strategies for engaging rural teens in TSCs; iii) working to become better connectors, networkers, and problem-solvers; and iv) evaluating the effectiveness of different strategies in reaching a bigger and more diverse group of rural teens.


If you apply and are accepted, you will be collaborating on research with the Principal Investigators for this project, Dr. Jan Mokros and Dr. Michelle Hall. We will conduct documentation of current activities, interviews, and community asset mapping for the purpose of uncovering traditional and non-traditional opportunities for STEM learning in your community. You will be part of a community of practice and will receive professional development training to support your research efforts.

The project will pay each participant $1000 per year (for 2 years) for doing the research with us and with other adult leaders.  The project also will pay for your participation in two in-person TSCN workshops, which are required of all who participate.  At the workshops, we will share strategies and challenges with each other and dig into the research process.


To be part of the project, you’ll need to commit to these parameters:

  • Implementing at least 5 TSCs per year in a rural site for each of 2 years.
  • Attend two TSCN workshops, the first of which will take place in St. Louis in January 2020.
  • Spend 40 hours each year completing research for the project in addition to the time you spend running Cafés.
  • The work begins in mid-November 2019, with mapping the STEM assets (people, organizations, mentors) in your rural community.


Submit your application by November 8th. The application will need your signature and your supervisor’s. We strongly encourage you to apply to be part of this project and look forward to reviewing your application!