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Paper: A Burger, a Beer, and a Side of Science
Volume: 400, Preparing for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy: A Hands-on Symposium
Page: 100
Authors: Wiehe, B.R.; Landsberg, R.H.; Wyatt, R.J.; Turner, M.S.
Abstract: Science cafés (a.k.a. café scientifiques) engage unconventional adult audiences and help researchers hone their communication skills in a relaxed and fun setting. Typically held in restaurants and pubs, science cafés provide a comfortable place for the public to speak with a scientist. National and local evaluations of the café format indicate that cafés are an effective way to engage adult audiences (especially non-scientists). Continued media coverage also demonstrates that something about them captures the public’s imagination. This paper is based on an interactive oral presentation about organizing, presenting, and partnering with science cafés to bring IYA themes (and other current research) directly to new audiences. Real world examples from experienced café organizers and presenters provide an overview of what a science café is, how to start one, and how to use the format to draw attention to astronomy topics. The discussion includes suggestions for tapping into the existing national and international community of cafés (there are more than 60 in the U.S. alone), and information about free outreach resources. Break-out exercises in the original oral presentation were designed to help prepare participants to: find a suitable venue, advertise, work with café speakers, and foster the inclusive conversation that is the hallmark of a science café. Participants also learned about the impacts that can be expected from a science café, including benefits to audiences, café presenters, and hosting organizations. The overall goal of the original oral presentation was to stimulate a discussion about strategies for facilitating face-to-face communication between scientists and lay audiences.
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