14 April 2008

“Geeks and Guinness”

Yesterdays Observer carried an article by Lucy McDonald about the Material Beliefs event at the Dana Centre.

Cafe Scientifique events provide an environment where science can be discussed informally over drinks. There’s comment here from Duncan Dallas, who talks about the success of the format, which was set up in Leeds in 1998:

For me the whole point of science cafes isn’t to promote science or make more kids become scientists, but it is about being able to discuss topics which are revolutionary.

The article contrasts the popularity of the science cafes with the drop in uptake of physics at A-level, “from 43,416 in 1991 to 28,119 in 2005″. There’s cause for concern here, but where initiatives like the Science Learning Centres respond to issues in uptake of science in schools, and the provision of science learning for young people, science cafes are for those who left school some time ago, and address their continuing relationship with science through the broader role it plays in their society. Quotes in the article from the evening attendees reflect this:

It’s all really relaxed and you don’t feel intimidated about challenging speakers beliefs or scientific research. Science is becoming more part of out lives, and I want to hear about it from the experts.

It’s an increasingly scientific society that we live in, understanding what’s going on in science helps put everything in context.

There’s no dull theorising so it was rally accessible, it’s better than staying in and watching television every night.

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