More ...




For your Café Scientifique to run smoothly and be a success, the team should be diverse and have different interests and skills. The team should have people from:

Different subjects: The issues that you are likely to be discussing may be grounded in science but you will be talking about politics, sociology, art, history, philosophy and many other subjects, so it is important that your team is not just made up of students with a passion for science. Aim for a broad mix of interests, to encourage an exciting and varied assortment of topics to stimulate debate and discussion.

Different year groups: Your café is going to be a success and you won’t want to see it grind to a halt when you leave school or college. So it’s vital that a range of students is involved and then younger students can continue when older ones leave. That way, the whole group doesn’t have to be replaced at once and there will be members with some experience remaining to carry on with the cafés. You can find further guidelines on how to ensure that your café continues in ‘Continuity’.

Team meetings

Each café will need around three team meetings to organise it but you might choose to meet more regularly, say every week. In your team meetings you’ll choose topics, make decisions and update the team on the planning and organisation for the next café. The main decisions that you will need to make are:

The venue
One of the aims of Café Scientifique is to take science out of the classroom and into an informal space, where discussions can be relaxed and easy. So the venue should be a place such as a library or common room, where the audience can relax, eat and drink (especially if the café is held at lunchtime) and participate. You may have to organise more chairs and change the layout of the room. There’s no need for any technical equipment – with only ten minutes or so to introduce the topic, speakers won’t need projectors or microphones. It is a good idea to take a walk around the school, perhaps with your teacher co-ordinator, to look at possible spaces and spot any benefits or problems.
Cafés will happen out of class time, as the audience should be there because they are interested in participating or listening and are able to come and go as they please. Whether you hold your café meetings at lunchtime or after school will depend on your school day, the restrictions of your venue and when you think you will get a bigger audience.
The topic
The range of topics out there is massive, from bioterrorism to plastic surgery. To attract a good audience, topics should be contemporary, controversial or imaginative. You’ll find some suggestions for topics at the end of this pack but you are free to choose whatever you want. Ideas might come from newspapers, radio or TV. If you have the beginning of an idea but you’re not quite sure, discuss it with the project organiser. She’s there to find you a speaker to match the topic that you want to discuss.
The audience
Aim to have as much of an open door policy as you can, both for students and teachers, although you may want to set a minimum year group which can attend. Also, think about inviting pupils from other local schools (you will need to speak to your teacher co-ordinator about this) and inviting family and friends to an after-school or special meeting.

Different roles

It is a good idea to assign different roles to different people, so that it is clear who is responsible for what and the team benefits from everyone’s skills and experiences. You will need to fill at least these roles but you might want to break them down even further. You might want to set up other team jobs, e.g. photographer, but for a skeleton crew, you will need:

Speaker Liaison

The speaker liaison will take on tasks like:

  • Being the point of contact for the speaker – they will contact you if they have any questions about the event.
  • Making sure that you have full contact details for the speaker, including a mobile number in case anything goes wrong
  • Briefing the speaker about what you want to discuss, outlining what you discussed in the team meeting, why you chose the topic and the types of questions that you would like answered.
  • Making sure that the speaker has details of where the school is, when they are due to arrive and where to go when they do.
  • Meeting the speaker in reception and bringing them to the venue.

This person is responsible for the nitty-gritty details that make sure the cafés run smoothly. Things like:

  • Scheduling the cafés – making sure that the whole team is available and that they don’t clash with any other major school events.
  • Booking the space for the cafes
  • Organising the layout of the room, recruiting helpers if necessary
  • Organising any refreshments
  • Making sure that Reception knows about the event
  • Making sure that there is water available for the speaker
  • Writing a timetable for the day of the event and circulating it, so that everyone is clear what is happening and when.

The public face of Café Scientifique. Their main role will be on the day; welcoming the audience and speaker, directing audience questions, encouraging debate and discussion and introducing new questions if things slow down. This is a key role and not an easy one. It may be a role for one person or you might want to rotate it around the team. The project organiser can help with advice and techniques for chairing.


The success of your cafés depends on people turning up and that depends on the effectiveness of your publicity. You will need to publicise the cafes well in advance and make sure that information about them is easily available. Publicity could involve things like:

  • Flyers
  • Posters
  • A website or page on the school website
  • A newsletter or update giving details of the next few meetings and their topics
  • Talking about cafe scientifique in assemblies

Someone will need to be responsible for making sure the organising group runs smoothly. This will involve:

  • Scheduling and arranging a room for team meetings – and making sure everyone knows about them
  • Keeping hold of all the paperwork
  • Keeping notes of team meetings - especially what was decided
  • Keeping contact details for all the members of the organising group.


You can download more detailed information about these roles here. (PDF file)



Contact           Search           Feedback        Cafe Scientifique (evening cafes)



© Copyright Junior Cafe Scientifique 2005-08

supported by the ...