Starting a Teen Science Café—Part I FAQ

Below we answer some key questions to consider before starting a teen science café.


Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Science Cafés


What is a Teen Café?

Teen Science Cafés are social events that bring teens together with scientists, engineers, and inventors to explore our changing world. We promote exploration, curiosity and life-long learning about current and cutting-edge ideas in science and technology. A Café begins with a lively introduction to some hot science topic that launches conversation among the participants, followed by an activity to explore the topic more. Cafés are planned and led by teen leaders with the support of an adult leader.


What is the Teen Science Café Network?

We are a community of practice providing the highest quality resources, guidance, and support to individuals and organizations that wish to implement a teen science café. Our members are committed to help one another continually improve the teen science café experiences and their impacts.


What are the Core Design Principles of a Teen Science Café program?

The Teen Science Café model has certain key elements: highly engaging and interactive programs, vetted presenters coached in communicating with teens, teen leadership and ownership of their program, a committed adult or “local hero” to guide the teen leaders, a focus on attracting a highly diverse and curious audience (not the usual suspects), and community awareness and support.


What are the impacts of a Teen Science Café program?

Teens consider their Teen Café program to be interesting and fun, but it has also been shown that these events provide teens with a much more realistic view of the nature of science, the work scientists do, and the relevance of science to their lives, while enriching and bringing a real-world perspective to the science they learn in school. Scientists typically value participation in a Teen Café program because they learn to better communicate their science to the public, they gain a new perspective on their own science, and because it is fun.


How do I Join the Teen Science Café Network?

Any organization that wants to start a Teen Café program can join the Teen Science Café Network and become part of a vibrant, mutually supporting community. There are three simple requirements for membership: members agree to 1) construct their program around six Core Design Principles, 2) annually share a progress report of their program with the Network, and 3) annually provide some basic evaluation data. Apply for membership


What are the Benefits of Membership in the Network?

Each member contributes to and benefits from interactions across the Network. Members gain access and can contribute to the forum, blogs and online professional development to seek solutions to common problems and learn from the successes of other Teen Café programs. We also offer a face-to-face annual Network Workshop. New members are eligible to apply to one time for small start-up funds for programs in need of assistance.


How do I Get Started Building my local Teen Science Café?

The Teen Science Café Network website has abundant resources related to leading a Teen Café program. Our blog provides community perspectives on issues and ideas. The best way to start to get a feeling for the nature of Teen Cafés is by reading the Guide to Getting Started with a Teen Café



See Part II of the series.

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