The Core Design Principles underlying the Teen Science Café model stem from the Café Scientifique New Mexico program started in 2007. However, as the knowledge base of our present community of practice continues to deepen and expand, the model—and these core principles—will continue to evolve.
Our member organizations agree to conduct Teen Science Cafés in their communities that are aligned with these principles.
1. Café programs are highly engaging and interactive.
Cafés are structured to promote lively conversation and interaction among teens and the presenter; a Café is not a lecture.
2. Scientists are carefully vetted and guided in communicating with teens.
Focusing on storytelling, the big ideas, why it matters, and how it will change our world—supported by a few key, jargon-free graphics—is of the essence.
3. Teens gain a sense of ownership of their program through opportunities for leadership.
Teen Leadership Teams are responsible for all aspects of their program, with adult leaders providing support in the background.
4. Each Café site must have an adult leader who is committed to the program.
The adult leaders have the energy and dedication to organize and support the work of teen leaders.
5. Café programs seek to attract teens with diverse motivations and life experiences.
Diversity includes ethnicity, culture, and gender, but also motivations to learning about science. Teen Cafés are not just for the science geeks; Cafés are for all curious teens.
6. Café organizers actively cultivate strong community relationships.
Building relationships with scientific and teen-serving organizations can increase participation of both teens and scientists, support community awareness, and sustain your Café program.
7. Café organizers promote awareness of career trajectories and STEM opportunities beyond the Café experience itself.
Additional science-related experiences help to cement the impact of the café experience, build teen science interest and identity, and may open doors to careers in science. STEM experts who share their pathway into a STEM career have inspired many teens.