Science By The Slice

Jason Fasano, Writer

This coming Monday, December 3rd, will be the first “Science Cafe” meeting, an opportunity for students interested in the field of science to explore their interests, network, and investigate future career opportunities. Franklin High’s AP Biology teacher, Mrs. Butler organized the event, which she hopes will be only the first of many similar meetings.

What Exactly Is a “Science Cafe”?

The science cafe is a world wide grassroots movement, aimed at making science accessible and understandable to the average citizen. Because of this focus on the average person, not advanced scientific specialists, the topics usually focus on the more human side of science, practical everyday applications, ethical debates, and so on.

The movement began in French cafes, where scientists would meet with laymen to discuss whatever issues seemed to peak their interests. The movement soon spread, and now can be found in cities and towns world wide. Many colleges and universities have also started there own science cafe inspired clubs as well.

Founding the Franklin Chapter

“I was looking for a way to get kids who were in my science classes to become more aware of different careers in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math],” explained Mrs. Butler. “A lot of the kids are thinking about becoming nurses, doctors, physical therapists; because that’s all they really know about or hear about. There’s this whole world out there that they don’t really even know about, I just wanted to open up that world to them.”

The program started when Mrs. Butler was approved funding through a grant from the Franklin Education Foundation, a community organization that promotes supplemental enrichment programs to the K through 12 learning process.

“We had a STEM speaker series, which was parents, and it they would come in with their PowerPoints, and it was fabulous. But, there was a certain disconnect, they’re much older than the students” said Mrs. Butler.

The goal with the new program is to make it far more relatable to young people. The goal is to organize three more meetings this year, each based on a different area of the STEM fields, depending on what the students express an interest in.

Franklin’s First: Cell Wars

The upcoming Sci Cafe will be focused on cellular interactions, with future meetings aimed at focusing on other scientific interests. The speaker for the first meeting will be Kevin Bonham, a graduate of the University of California, with a major in biochemistry and cell biology. He is also currently seeking a doctorate degree at Harvard, and planning on pursuing a career in science education or science policy.

“I could’ve picked someone fabulous from Brown to come, and they would have been great, but they’re not making that connection. So I chose Kevin because he gets this,” said Mrs. Butler.

Kevin has previously spoken at the Harvard Science Cafe Club, Science by the Pint, so he has some experience with these types of settings. He was selected because of his experience, but also because of his relatively young age, which will hopefully allow for a more relatable and intimate experience.

“I really hope there will be some chemistry, no pun intended,” Mrs. Butler said.

There will only be about 4 of these Sci Cafe meetings this year, so it is a rare opportunity. Mrs. Butler encourages anyone with ever a remote interest to attend, because opportunities like this don’t come up often. A sign up sheet is located in Mrs. Butler’s room, A121.

Mrs. Butler can also be reached at: [email protected]