Science cafes offer a sip of learning
By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Americans may be turning away from the hard sciences at universities, but they are increasingly showing up at "science cafes" in local bars and restaurants to listen to scientific talks over a drink or a meal.
Want a beer with that biology? Or perhaps a burger with the works to complement the theory of everything?
Science cafes have sprouted in almost every state including a tapas restaurant near downtown Orlando where Sean Walsh, 27, a graphic designer, describes himself and his friends as some of the laymen in the crowd.
"We just want to learn and whatever we take in, we take in. But we're also socializing and having a nice time," said Walsh, who a drank beer, ate Tater Tots and learned a little about asteroids and radiation at two recent events.
Others in the crowd come with scientific credentials to hear particular scientists lecture on a narrowly focused field of interest.
But the typical participant brings at least some college-level education or at least a lively curiosity, said Edward Haddad, executive director of the Florida Academy of Sciences, which helped start up Orlando's original cafe and organizes the events.
"You're going to engage the (National Public Radio) crowd very easily here," said Linda Walters, a marine conservation biologist from the University of Central Florida who has lectured twice at the Orlando-area science cafes.
Haddad said the current national push to increase the number of U.S. graduates in science, technology, engineering and math, or the STEM fields, is driving up the number of science cafes. Continued...