Designing the Café Experience

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the structure of the Teen Science Café at the Pacific Science Center.  The author: DeLancey Lane is the Teen Science Cafe Intern at PSC.

Our café is run by our Teen Leaders who are also integral parts of the preparation and planning. During our monthly meetings the Teen Leaders will decide what topic they would like discussed at future events. From there, staff search our Science Communication Fellowship database for a speaker that has a background in the topic the teens are interested in, and who has already developed an activity or led a science café before. Once we find a scientist who is on board, they generally come in and present a simple version of their presentation and activity to a section of our Leadership Team. While the scientist works on their PowerPoint and activity throughout the weeks leading up to the event, the teens are planning an “icebreaker” activity to warm up the crowd.

At the events themselves we start with a welcome by our teen moderator, someone from the Leadership Team, who introduces the program and then lets the activity moderator take over. The activity moderator leads the audience in the interactive fun icebreaker that the teens developed. Then the moderator gives a short introduction and biography of the speaker. The scientist speaks for about twenty minutes (which includes the scientist’s activity), after which we take a short break to get snacks. We congregate again to ask the scientist questions and wrap up the session with raffle prizes. Our cafes are not held in cafes, so we set up tables with food and checkin/info tables stationed with teens. We have a PowerPoint presentation set up and sometimes a table or podium with microphones for the moderators and speaker. The audience sits in chairs that are set up in semi-circle like formation facing the PowerPoint and speaker.

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