Photo of Michael Newman in the stairs at Kennedy Library with green and gold balloons

Written by on October 29, 2013

Apply now! Open Science Cafe

I’m very excited to announce a new initiative, Open Science Cafe, which awards a student event proposal with a $3,000 budget and $500 stipend. Open Science Cafe is designed to inspire and empower students to make their own Cal Poly Science Café event with the researcher, thought leader or creative mover and shaker of their choice. This is Learn by Doing.

What is Cal Poly Science Café?

Cal Poly Science Cafe is a fun series that brings the campus and community together for interactive events and causal conversations in the cafe area at Kennedy Library. They last about an hour and can cover any topic, not just those relating to science. Ideally, they are hands-on. See what we’ve done in the last few years on our Vimeo channel to get an idea about the experts we’ve featured.

Also on Vimeo is a how-to video I made about making an interactive science cafe series:

Each event, which is often called a “public program” in museum and library circles, starts with an idea. Perhaps it’s inspired by someone’s research or innovation, or by a compelling personality who is a leader in their field. Perhaps there is a conversation going on in popular culture that would be interesting to explore. Perhaps you just read an article that was so amazing you wanted to tell a dozen other people about it.

Yes, Cal Poly Science Cafe can be about nearly anything and feature nearly anyone who is doing something inspiring. I know that this openness can be daunting, but it’s also exciting.

How does Open Science Cafe work?

This is an opportunity to gain project management experience from start to finish with a mentor. I will guide you through the process of making an event happen, starting with your dream idea. Together we will try to find a way to make the event interactive so that it isn’t only a lecture, but a chance for the people who attend to have a memorable interaction with the expert or their area of interest. Passionate people make the best guests, and we will work to capture that passion and share it with others.

Photo of a student smelling coffee.

The executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) taught us how to taste coffee at this Cal Poly Science Cafe. It’s fun to host experiences!

Once we’ve received all the applications (deadline is December 13, 2013) we will begin evaluating them based on 1) creativity and thoughtfulness and 2) feasibility and planning. We welcome applications from students at every college and in every discipline.

After reviewing applications, we will meet with selected students to discuss their ideas. A winner will be announced by January 31, 2014. Apply now!

This is a leadership opportunity that will be well-documented

In addition to the budget, infrastructure and support to make your vision a reality and the hands-on experience of making a program happen from start to finish, you’ll also have the opportunity to show your real-world experience to future employers through the documentation of your process and the event itself. What does this mean? It means we make artifacts. These are digital or physical things that remain after an event. For example, we usually make a video interview with the expert featured at Cal Poly Science Cafe. We always photo-document. We sometimes do a social media component to expand the conversation. Speaking of which, join us on Facebook!

How do you want to tell future employers the story of your leadership, and the event you created for your community?

For more information about Open Science Cafe, go Kennedy Library, Competitions. We look forward to your application!


Read more on artifacts, cal poly, Cal Poly Science Café, kennedy library, learn by doing, open science cafe, and public programs.

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