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August 6, 2007

Media Contacts:
Roger Harris, Sigma Xi, scicafe@sigmaxi.org or 800-243-6534
Ben Wiehe, WGBH, ben_wiehe@wgbh.org or 617-300-3980

WGBH, Sigma Xi Launch New Science Café Web Site

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC - The WGBH Educational Foundation, in association with the scientific research society Sigma Xi, has launched a comprehensive Web site at sciencecafes.org to promote the growing Science Café movement in the U.S.

The joint venture is the product of an ongoing partnership that began in 2004. That's when Sigma Xi chapters around the country started holding informal public discussions in restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, science museums and other venues, drawing on themes presented in the PBS television series NOVA scienceNOW, produced by WGBH.

At Science Cafés, scientists and engineers share their expertise in a relaxed, friendly setting. Topics have been wide-ranging, from bird flu, human space flight, chaos and global warming, to the Irish Potato famine, green building, the ivory-billed woodpecker, honeybees and dark energy/dark matter.

Sciencecafes.org is designed to assist in all aspects of planning and promoting these events, from publicizing and supporting them, to choosing topics, speakers and venues. The site was created with the help and input of many science café organizers and also features an interactive map to locate where around the country cafés are being held.

The new Web site is an outgrowth of the first national conference of Science Café organizers held at the Sigma Xi Center in 2006 by WGBH and Sigma Xi's Public Understanding of Science program.

"By taking science to the people, Science Cafés help to personalize and demystify complex subjects, bringing science into everyday conversation, where it truly belongs," said Roger Harris, Sigma Xi membership director. "This partnership combines NOVA scienceNOW's compelling video with the educational outreach of WGBH and Sigma Xi's unprecedented access to the nation's top researchers."

Harris continued, "As partners, WGBH and Sigma Xi have supported the Science Café movement from its early beginnings in the U.S. The sciencecafes.org Web site is a powerful resource that will bring together the science café community and help new cafés get started."

"It has been a delight to watch the popularity of science cafés grow in the United States with the support of our organizations," said Julie Benyo, director of educational outreach for WGBH. "From a handful of cafés a few years ago to more than 50 in the U.S. today, the café format has proven that people of all ages and backgrounds enjoy talking over the latest developments in science."

About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcaster, producing such celebrated national PBS series as NOVA, Masterpiece Theatre, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, American Experience, Arthur and more than a dozen other award-winning primetime, lifestyle and children's series. WGBH is also the leading producer of online content for pbs.org - one of the most-visited dot.org sites on the Internet - a major producer for public radio and a pioneer in developing educational multimedia and new technologies that make media accessible for people with disabilities. Visit WGBH on the Web at www.wgbh.org.

About Sigma Xi
Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi has about 60,000 members and 520 chapters at colleges and universities, government laboratories and industry research centers. More than 200 Sigma Xi members have received the Nobel Prize over the years. The non-profit society publishes award-winning American Scientist magazine and sponsors a variety of programs that support science and engineering. The Society's Public Understanding of Science program also hosts a Science Café Resource Page for chapters, members and the public. Visit www.sigmaxi.org for more about Sigma Xi.

 

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