What We Do
Teen Science Café programs bring teens and scientists together to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) affecting their lives and our world. Programs are led by teens for teens with sponsorship of an adult leader. The central theme is a guided experience led by teens, exploring topics selected by the teens, and bringing scientists and technologists to a setting where teens could explore new ideas.
The Café events are unique, based on the communities and cultures in which they are held. Cafés are hosted at community colleges, science centers, zoos and aquaria, libraries, museums, and other public venues.
Teen leaders are the backbone of a teen science café. They pick the topics, work with the scientist to develop a hands-on activity related to the topic, introduce the presenter, recruit their peers to attend the event, choose the topics, participate in a dry run with the scientist to ensure the program is at an appropriate level, create flyers for marketing, capture the attendance, and contacts to remind the teens about future events. Teen leaders also write Cool Café reports that are posted on the website.
The adult leader is the linchpin of the teen science café program. How the adult leader interacts with the teen leaders and the presenters makes all the difference. The “secret sauce” of a teen café program is that the teen leaders feel it is their program, run by themselves for the benefit of all the teens who come to the cafés. The critical role of the adult leader is to act, not as a director, but as a mentor and “guide-on-the side,” allowing the teen leaders to step up to their roles, be proactive, develop best policies and procedures, and to make mistakes and learn from them. Thus, they learn leadership skills.
The role of the adult leader is to encourage teen leaders to take the initiative in all aspects of the program, by asking questions that prompt teen leaders to take charge of their program.
Our focus on Positive Youth Development and the critical role of the adult leader as a mentor align with that of many out of school programs.
Role of the Scientists
The role of scientists is to provide an engaging story about their career from the age of 14 to thirty years of age. Their stories reveal to the teens how they might become a scientist, engineer, computer scientist, mathematician, pursue medicine, and many more careers. The presentations should include images to tell the story, rather than bullet points. should be 20 minutes, followed with a hands-on activity and questions and answers.