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Sigma Xi Science Cafés

Sigma Xi is leading a revolution in communicating science in the U.S. This revolution is taking place in cafés, bars, bookstores, libraries, museums and theaters. Science Cafés help the public connect with science. Scientists and engineers informally share their research during a conversational exchange in a friendly setting. Through working with key partners, encouraging members to participate and supporting its chapters, Sigma Xi continues to be at the forefront of promoting and supporting Science Cafés around the country. More than thirty Sigma Xi chapters are involved with science cafes— click here to see where they are.

One of these key Café partners is WGBH. In association with Sigma Xi, the WGBH Educational Foundation has launched a comprehensive Web site at www.sciencecafes.org. This site was created with the help and input of many Science Café organizers, following the first national conference of Science Café organizers held at the Sigma Xi Center in 2006. At this Web site, Café organizers will find resources and ideas to help in all aspects of planning and promoting these events—from publicizing and supporting them, to choosing topics, speakers and venues. Free resources include an interactive map of Science Café sites around the country and short clips presented in the PBS television series NOVA scienceNOW, produced by WGBH.

Sigma Xi Resources
Sigma Xi chapters are a great source of speakers for science cafés—even if those cafés aren’t organized by Sigma Xi per se. The Society's network of more than 500 diverse chapters extends across North America and beyond. Our chapters are networks of members—researchers from the entire span of scientific and engineering disciplines. If you are looking for a speaker for your science café, click here to find a Sigma Xi chapter contact near you. (Or click here to see which chapters are already involved with science cafés.)

This audio slideshow is intended for people interested in starting new science cafes. Science café expert Ben Wiehe explains how to choose a topic and a venue, how to make your cafe series sustainable, and more. The presentation is adapted from a webinar offered to Sigma Xi chapters on January 14, 2010.

If you would like to learn more about how Sigma Xi can help you organize a Science Café or if you are looking for a Sigma Xi Scientist to participate in an upcoming Science Café, please e-mail scicafe@sigmaxi.org or call 800-243-6534.

Especially for Sigma Xi Members
Sigma Xi members have exclusive access to our Science Café Guide, a booklet that introduces the science café concept and gets you started organizing your own café series. It includes tips on finding venues, speakers, and community partners; advice for moderators; sample timelines for planning and holding a science café; and much more.

Click here for Sigma Xi Member Only access to the Science Café Guide

Along with their other activities at your chapter, Sigma Xi's Distinguished Lecturers are ideal speakers for your Science Café. These outstanding individuals at the leading edge of science are especially good at communicating with the general public. Distinguished Lecturers are selected for their experience in shaping presentations to convey their insights and excitement to particular audiences. (Please note it is customary for the host of a Distinguished Lecturer to cover all travel costs and a modest honorarium.) Click here for the list of 2011-2012 Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturers.

For more information and help organizing a Science Café, please contact scicafe@sigmaxi.org or 800-243-6534. Please share your successes (and lessons learned) or any suggestions you might have about the Science Café Kit or these Web pages.


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