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Report From the TSCN Annual Workshop: Wouldn’t it be Great if the Network…

Report by Michael Mayhew and RJ Montaño


An earlier post listed workshop attendees’ responses to the challenge of writing down “at least one high priority challenge they set for themselves for the coming year (‘Wouldn’t it be great if I…’).” This post lists attendees’ responses to a second challenge, “Wouldn’t it be great if the Network….”

“The focus here is on experiences, resources, or other things you would like to happen in the Network in the coming year. You may be willing/able to help make it happen, or you may want others to provide it.”


In some cases the “wish list” for the Network calls upon the Resource Center take action. In most cases, however, collaborative initiatives by Network members will be called for, which the Resource Center can then get behind and support. For the more formidable initiatives that members might seek to collaboratively undertake, funding to support that work is potentially available from the Resource Center.


Members who were unable to attend the workshop are invited to send us their own high priority challenges for the coming year. We will be most interested in seeing these, and will put them as addenda to the list below.


The challenges for the Network in the coming year that attendees wrote down make for interesting reading. The most common requests are for videos, face to face meet ups, more of a focus on the teens within the network, sharing resources, and mentoring.


Attendees are encouraged to initiate discussions on what they consider priority topics in the wish list below via the TSCN Forum.


Here are your original suggestions, lightly edited and unattributed…


Wouldn’t it be great if the Network…


Helped set up a teen night. Acknowledged teens as people, encouraged them by giving awards.


Had video examples of cafés. Leaders could start taping cafés for use on YouTube or sites to post and share.


Notified each other of opportunities to participate in each other’s events (via webcast).


Consistently retweeted/posted each other’s social media posts.


Created certificates of participation for speakers.


Had a mentorship program pairing a new café with an experienced café so leaders (adult and teen) can learn and launch more easily.


Had more in-depth and meaningful discussions and training on diversity and inclusion. Determined areas of specific interest and best methods of delivery. Developed 1-3 modules for café leaders and participants.


Understood the importance of parental involvement. Encouraged parents to have kids/teens to attend. Encouraged parents to attend adult cafes.


Shared presenters via Skype. Recruited partners in communities. Conducted brainstorming of topics/activities for comparison among sites.


Do check-ins. The check-ins would keep new cafes on track and also emphasize the support that is available.


Created a network of scientists/presenters and a common approach to their professional development.


Gathered student impacts data Network-wide. Developed a common evaluation tool to have more robust data for use with proposals.


Organized a network of scientists from professional groups who are devoted to promoting teen science cafes with a national reach.


Made a database of good presenters, especially ones who will travel.


Could develop a searchable catalog of successful hands-on activities to draw from.


Developed a list of trained scientists that includes location, specialty, and ability to video conference.


Had bilingual resources for non- or secondary English cafes.


Established a framework to ensure a lasting TSC. Make use of resources from the Network and collaborate with known programs, teen groups, and community mentors.


Hosted periodic webinars/sharing sessions about big topics and best practices. Identified good cafe topics. Developed directory of good presenters. Scheduled at least one webinar for 2016-2017


Created a video library to provide examples for new cafes.


Had resources that quantify the benefits of youth-led programming, including solid numbers of how much time and resources it takes to get youth-led programming running. Why is it good? (I’m sold, but I need help selling it to others who aren’t convinced.)


Had a workshop every year and included more hands-on activities. Called upon members to do more, invite a scientist. (It has been a great workshop.)


Generated a list of presenters by region or organizations who would be guests or provide guests for cafés.


Actually visited each others’ cafes. Supported leadership training for teens. Helped expansion to 2nd venue.


Had teens represented in the annual workshop. Had a more instantaneous forum before and during the workshop to keep attendees updated on the next steps. Carried out a continuous follow up after the workshop.


Brought teen leaders together. Held additional workshops for start-up cafes.


Could develop a searchable catalog of successful hands-on activities to draw from.


Had a forum for teen leaders to communicate with each other and a “For Teen Leaders” section on the website. Adult leaders could encourage teens to use it.


Helped with consolidation/partnership between two cafes.


Paired a seasoned café leader with a neophyte for a couple months to help provide support, share best practices, and be a sounding board. Arrange for a TSCN discount on science products.


Shared resources. Created a mentorship program for new sites. Checked in with each other periodically. Created a resource bank like the Connectory. Conducted periodic webinars.


Built the “Ship” differently. Focus on collaboration with those who share a passion for the mission, not those who focus on building the ship. Community members could travel across county lines to help strengthen cafes.


Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was like the people in this room.



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