GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 155-14
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


HALL, Michelle K. and MAYHEW, Michael, Science Education Solutions, 4200 W Jemez Rd, Suite 322, Los Alamos, NM 87544,

The Teen Science Café Network is a dynamic, growing network of programs across the country with the mission of connecting high school teenagers with science and scientists via the science café model, which has proven wildly popular with adults throughout the world. In teen café programs throughout the Network, the teens have lively conversations with scientists working in a very wide range of disciplines within a social setting. These programs have proven very popular with the teens, and evaluations show that it provides them with a wholly new perspective on the work that scientists do and the interesting lives they lead. For some, teen programs open up the possibility of a career in science that had never occurred to them before. The theme of this talk is that the teen café model represents a possible opportunity for geoscience departments.

Teen Science Café programs can offer geoscience departments a substantive way to meet the challenges many of them face: finding ways to increase enrollment, helping faculty satisfy the broader impacts requirements of funding agencies, connecting with the surrounding communities, and providing opportunities for faculty and graduate students to learn how to communicate their science effectively to the public audience. The typical experience of scientists who have presented in teen cafés throughout the Network is that the communication skills learned spill over into their courses, proposals, and presentations to administrators and program officers.

A department might partner with one or more organizations in their surrounding communities—libraries, for example—and engage its faculty and its graduate students—and even its undergraduates—in providing geoscience programming across multiple disciplines to local teens. Besides the internal benefits to the department's personnel and the value of establishing connections with community organizations, the impact of such engagement might well be the attracting students to the department.