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Success of Science Cafe Leads to Teen Version

September 11, 2008 | by Megan Fellman
EVANSTON --- The popular Science Café Evanston, a casual forum that began last year for adults to explore and debate the latest ideas in science and technology, has produced an offshoot: Junior Science Café.

Geared toward teenagers, the new café will debut Saturday, Sept. 20, with Northwestern University engineering professor Matthew Grayson discussing "1941: The Historical Debate over Nuclear Technology." Grayson will tie his talk to his upcoming role as physicist Werner Heisenberg in the Tony Award-winning play "Copenhagen," which will be performed at Northwestern this month.

Free and open to middle and high school students and their parents, Junior Science Café will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Boocoo, 1823 Church St. A light lunch will be served, and beverages may be purchased. Scheduled for the second Saturday of each month (except Sept. 20) during the academic year, the café will run September through May at the same time and location.

At each science café, a scientist -- using plain and accessible language -- delivers a short presentation on a topic. The talk is followed by an hour or so of questions and answers and general discussion. Speakers will include Northwestern faculty members as well as other scientists from the Chicago metropolitan area.

Other Junior Science Café presentations include:
  • "How a Solar Car Works," Oct. 11, Michael Awadalla, Northwestern Solar Car Team
  • "Hormones, Dwarfs and Giants," Nov. 8, Northwestern physiologist Neena Schwartz
  • "Making Me! Sperm and Eggs, Oh My!" Jan. 10, Northwestern fertility researcher Teresa Woodruff
  • "Genetic Testing," Feb. 14, Michael Kennedy, Northwestern's Center for Genetic Medicine
Science Café Evanston, the café for adults, gets under way Wednesday, Sept. 17, with Northwestern University transportation expert and civil engineer Joseph Schofer discussing "Transportation by the Numbers: Fundamentals, Fuel, Funding and the Future." In his talk, Schofer will touch on urban travel and transportation, energy and the environment and the Evanston advantage.

Also free, the event will be held from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. at Prairie Moon, 1502 Sherman Ave. Food and beverages may be purchased. (Prairie Moon is a new location, as the café outgrew last year's Celtic Knot space.) The café will be held once a month during the academic year, September through June, at the same time and location.

Other Science Café Evanston events include:
  • "Science and the Presidential Election," Oct. 15, Northwestern chemist Franz Geiger
  • "Why Single Payer Is the Only Feasible Health Reform," Nov. 19, Quentin Young, M.D., Physicians for a National Health Program
  • "Crossing Disciplines: Fertility Preservation for Cancer Patients," Jan. 21, Northwestern fertility researcher Teresa Woodruff
  • "Dangers on the Internet," March 18, David Kovarik, Information and Systems Security/Compliance, Northwestern
  • "Age-Related Changes of the Circadian System," April 15, Northwestern sleep researcher Phyllis Zee
  • "Targeting a Novel Embryonic Pathway in Aggressive Cancer," May 13, Mary Hendrix, Children's Memorial Research Center
  • "Neutron Beams and You: New Tools You Can Use at Home to Do Science," June 17, Dean Grosshandler, School of Education and Social Policy
In February, to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, there will be a café focused on evolution, but the topic and speaker have yet to be determined.

The cafés are organized and sponsored by Northwestern's chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society. In addition to Sigma Xi, the cafés are sponsored by the University's Office of Information Technology and Office for Research.

For more information, contact Suzanne Auburn at (847) 491-2902 or sigma-xi@northwestern.edu. Up-to-date schedules for Junior Science Café and Science Café Evanston are available online.