Science and technology have never been more important in all our lives than they are today.
This three-year project started in July 2005. In our first year, we aim to have 20 cafes up and running and by the end of three years, we hope to have started 75 cafes. The initial project area is the north of England, with Organisers based in Manchester and Newcastle working to support schools in developing sustainable cafes scientifique.
Junior Cafes Scientifique are informal, school-based events where students and practising scientists meet to question and discuss ideas and issues in contemporary science and technology. Based on the success of the adult cafés this is a new scheme to get science speakers into schools. This has been set up to allow the students (mainly 14-18 year olds) to engage with young university researchers and debate on science topics relevant to them. These aim to be more than just a talk with slides advertising the scientist's research; these cafés aim to promote discussion.
The plan is for each Junior Café Scientifique to run for a maximum of one hour, and there will be 2-3 per term. The talk will last approximately 10-15 minutes and following this will be the major part of the session - discussion.
This will very much be a student-led project, with interested students (studying any subject, not just science) thinking of the subjects that they and their peers would like to discuss further. The organizers at Junior Café Scientifique would then help match up the topics with suitable speakers.
'Junior Café Scientifique', is funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Dr Ann Lackie, a scientist and novelist and Peter Normington, a physicist and information scientist, set up SciTalk, with the help of funding from NESTA, in March 2005.
The aim of this website and database is to bring together scientists and fiction-writers. Scientists of all ages, stages and disciplines are already registered: the main requirement is that they would enjoy meeting and talking to writers, and showing them how, where and with whom they work. This will help to give writers an accurate picture of what 'science' is about and who 'scientists' are and to help them to use this in their works of fiction - plays, novels, poems - and eventually reach a much wider audience of readers and theatre-goers.
The database is already recruiting enthusiastic scientists, and has received warm praise from John Sulston and Philip Pullman amongst others - so if you would like to help inform readers and audiences about biochemistry, and to change the way in which 'biochemists' are perceived, have a look at www.scitalk.org.uk, and register as a SciTalk Contributor.
Why not have a look on the pages for Ian Stewart, Mark Miodownik, Anne Osbourn and Charlotte Roberts for example?
The NESTA grant also allows for Ann to not only to spend time writing articles and writing to people about the project, but also to travel around to give talks to writers and scientists - "I'm particularly looking forward to this aspect, since this importance and success of SciTalk will also focus on communication through personal contact and meetings, not just written words or phone conversations." Ann Lackie.
Writers: you need no longer fear the apparent mystique and impenetrability of science, or worry about getting facts wrong, or having to resort to the scientist as cliché for a character. As you will discover here, there are scientists for every occasion, for every character. Science is individual or collaborative; scientists may be based in a laboratory or an office or a tent out in the wilds. The language and jargon can be exciting; the images are extraordinary; and the workplaces offer a wealth of different settings and scenarios.
Articles about SciTalk:
- Education Guardian.co.uk
- 'Science fusion' - Ann Lackie on a new project that links scientists with fiction writers
- Monday July 18, 2005
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