The evolution of the Ion Science Café continues! Although school was out for vacation last summer, we were approached by a local college’s high school “bridge program” with an expression of interest in aligning their summer STEM activities with our Teen Science Café. We seized the moment, pending details.
The college program focuses on increasing college matriculation rates for underrepresented groups of high school students. Eligibility includes factors such as race, gender, and economic status. We all agreed that the Teen Science Café format can really fit nicely if done right. June through December was characterized by topics such as “Zombies: Science?…Fiction?”, as well as the informally titled, “Vampire Mosquitoes”.
Aside from presentations, a tremendous amount of effort continues to be applied to relationship building with current and potential partners. Our efforts involve various levels of collaboration between the local community college and the University of Florida/Florida Medical Entomology Lab. At the moment, we are focusing on cultivating a stronger relationship with the high-school bridge program. In early 2015 we will build on the community college relationship and engage with a local non-profit organization that focuses on mentoring children of all ages (including teens). Most immediately, science café teen leadership is on the agenda.
There is one thing we can say with strong confidence: Building a science café from scratch can be daunting at times, yet profoundly rewarding as you evolve. Depending on your location, planning and execution may provide opportunities to consider any combination of local and regional social, cultural, and economic factors. The beauty of it is that the evolutionary process of each science café will likely be unique to that particular initiative.
Details are often changing, and sometimes windows of opportunity are narrow. Be prepared to recognize and seize resources and potential assets as they become available!
Woodrow Peterson directs the Ion Teen Science Cafe in Vero Beach, Florida