Teen Science Café

Cross post from Kaleesha Williams, one of the moms who comes to our makerspace


Saturday morning Denny and Farra attended the first of hopefully many Teen Science Cafés with which we’ll be involved. (Atira was still down with a cold, unfortunately, and I was out with back issues so Denny filled in for me. What a week it’d been!)

There are Science Cafés scattered over the world and now Teen Science Cafés are popping up across the U.S., too.

Science Cafés are events that take place in casual settings such as pubs and coffeehouses, are open to everyone, and feature an engaging conversation with a scientist about a particular topic.

Science Cafés represent a grassroots movement. They exist all over the world and can vary from place to place. Venues range from a local library or coffee house to a neighborhood bar. Even the names of Science Cafés vary, including Science on Tap, Science Pub, Ask a Scientist, and Café Sci.

About Teen Science Cafés:

We are a community of teens and adults creating a space where teens can learn from leading experts about science and technology changing their world. Teen Cafés are informal, interactive programs that promote exploration, creativity, and lifelong learning.

Grassroots. I like that word. I like everything it implies (except, ironically, actual grass roots when I cannot eradicate them from garden beds. But that’s another blog post entirely). Grassroots implies organization that’s natural and spontaneous, from the bottom-up, often operating at a local level, and community oriented.

Now, enter… science. Well, that’s enough make me giddy.

All of us use science every day. We use the products of science every day. But so many of us don’t understand what science is or how it works. And it’s not every day you get to sit down in a casual setting with a scientist who enjoys bringing their expertise to us regular folks. So, imagine: a crowd of curious people sitting around tables, enjoying a bite to eat, engaging with a scientist of whatever field, and maybe some hands-on project afterward. Does it get any better?

This month’s Teen Science Café was centered around the field of bionics and the brain computer interface, presented by Dan Moran, PhD, of Washington University, Department of Biomedical Engineering. The teens hosted it, there was a great turn-out, and it seems everyone enjoyed the hands-on project. Er, no pun intended–the project actually involved making hands out of everyday materials and seeing how they could be controlled by manipulating attached strings. (I’m going off Farra’s description here! Wish I could have been there.)

Well, it seems like a good time was had by all and there are many teens interested in coming back for another Café. I noticed in the pictures that the girls far outnumbered the boys. How lovely to see so many young women interested in science! Boys too, boys too. Just sayin’.


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