everyday SCIENCE Science in Unexpected Places: Learning at a Science Café

On a cold November evening in Somerville, Massachusetts, a city adjacent to Boston and Cambridge, some people ventured out to the neighborhood bar, the Thirsty Scholar Pub, a place that attracts mostly a combination of local working-class people and young professionals from the moderately priced apartments in the area. Its low lighting, comfortable tables and chairs, and televisions make it a perfect spot for local sports fans. Some of the adults in the audience had tickets for this night’s special event, and others just happened to be there.

On this particular night, Ben Wiehe, the WGBH outreach project director at that time, had booked the pub for a Science Café, a program designed to bring science to people of all backgrounds. The subject for this evening’s Science Café was global warming, and the topic was going to be introduced through a video clip from a NOVA scienceNOW program. The video focused on the cause of a mass extinction that took place 250 million years ago that ended what is known as the Permian era. Following the video, Charles Marshall, a Harvard professor and curator at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, was going to speak about the topic, relate it to the global warming currently taking place, and then facilitate a question-and-answer session.

The first step in planning a NOVA scienceNOW Science Café event is to select the target audience and choose a venue where that audience is comfortable meeting. The next step is to pick a topic, which involves finding a video clip and scientist for the event.

People from a range of backgrounds gather for a WGBH-sponsored Science Café.

People from a range of backgrounds gather for a WGBH-sponsored Science Café.

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