Interested in setting up a science café? Then the new web-book, Sipping science with a science café, is for you. This 130-page book looks at every aspect of science cafés – the history, practicalities, challenges, expectations and impacts.
It also takes a truly global view of science cafés, with many funny and moving examples of how local cultures shape science cafés across the world.
In Japan, it is considered impolite to contradict the eldest in the room. To get around this people are invited to text anonymous responses and comments to a screen in the café to get around this social stumbling block. In India where alcohol is rarely drunk, science cafés are called “Chai (Tea) and Why?”. In Iran, people gather to drink coffee only. In France, the principle of egalité is preserved by always having several speakers giving opposing views at the start of the science café.
In Uganda, local people hold science cafés around a “Malwa pot”, a traditional way that people come together. A Malwa pot is filled with the local brew and everyone is given a long straw to sip from. Holding a café in this way overcomes issues of language and of money and has made the event accessible to everyone in the community.
A huge variety of cafés is described in this book. In a deprived area of England, a mother of a teenage son arranged a science café to discuss The Teenage Brain, to try and help the community understand and assist local troubled teenagers. In the USA, Botanic Cafés aimed at families and schools try and encourage an interest in the environment. In some cases they have also successfully promoted tree planting initiatives.
Science cafés have been taking place in Sweden for many years. The website www.sciencecafe.se, run by VA, has details of upcoming science cafés around Sweden.
The book Sipping science with a science café is the result of the EU Science Café project, funded as part of the seventh framework programme. It can be downloaded here, via the EU portal or can be ordered and delivered as a book from www.lulu.com.