Design Impacts of a Youth Directed Café Scientifique Program

Design and Impacts of a Youth-directed
Café Scientifique Program

Michelle K. Hall1, Susan Foutzb and Michael A. Mayhewa aScience Education Solutions, 4200 W. Jemez Rd, Suite 301-22, Los Alamos,
NM 87544, USA; bInstitute for Learning Innovation, Edgewater, MD, USA


We have modified the popular Cafe Scientifique model for engaging adults in dialog on issues at the nexus of science and society to address the specific needs and interests of high-school age youth. Key elements of the model are Youth Leadership Teams that guide the program design and assist with implementation; a speaker preparation process to help scientists better connect with the teen audience; and a highly interactive program that goes beyond the typical short presentation and lively discussion by incorporating other means to actively explore the topic of the event. Our objectives in offering the program are to make science and scientists more engaging and accessible to youth; to help youth see science and technology research and discoveries as relevant to their daily lives; and to encourage positive attitudes toward science, scientists, and science, technology, engineering, and math careers. As a result of this project, we expected youth would develop:

  • an informal community that engages in scientific discourse, thought, and exploration;
  • a deep and nuanced understanding of current issues in science and technology and be able to

    communicate that understanding confidently and expertly;

  • skills and attitudes for lifelong learning and an appreciation of science as a career and as a way of


    The summative evaluation used a quasi-experimental design with matched control-treatment groups (N 1⁄4 383) to study the impact of the program on (1) attitudes toward science, scientists, and science careers and (2) Positive Youth Development (PYD). The evaluation data demonstrated the program positively impacted participants’ science-related attitudes; however, the degree to which the program’s PYD outcomes were achieved is less conclusive.

    Keywords: Youth; Positive youth development; Science communication; Science cafe ́; Cafe Scientifique; Out-of-school program; STEM attitudes

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