Teen Science Cafes
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and its partners have successfully piloted teen cafés in three locations. Through this program, the café infrastructure expands the program's reach to groups participating in real time at remote locations. The expanded sites enhances the museum's ability to reach underserved and underrepresented students.
Teen Science Cafés are innovative because schools focus on teaching scientific concepts, but do not focus on career pathways and the intersection between scientific degrees and real world application. Teen Science Cafés promote careers in science by linking students with researchers, graduate students and professionals who actively share their pathway into sciences and the degrees available and necessary for science careers. Career paths are not always linear and hearing the presenter's journey into various science fields is extremely valuable to students. Allowing students to make real-world connections to the concepts they learn in school gives them an answer to the question "Will I ever use this information when I grow up?"
The Teen Science Café settings are important because students are heavily motivated by peers. Peer groups are influential in teenager's lives and often teens make decisions based on what their peers are doing. It is difficult for teens to be motivated by adults and they have many in their lives trying to steer them. Our Cafe settings allow teens to be in control of their extracurricular time and explore their interests in science with their peers. Having a place to "hang-out" and learn with friends in a setting that parents condone is a special place indeed.
Head of Youth Programs
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences