5. WHAT DO WE DO IF…
- We can’t find a teacher to support us?
- The teacher information pack (download it from
here), gives all the details about cafe
scientifique that a teacher should need. Support could come from any
department, not just science – approach teachers of
citizenship, sociology, media studies or politics; speak to your
librarian or other support staff members. If you don’t already know,
your head teacher will be able to tell you who is responsible for
advanced skills training, supporting gifted and talented pupils and
citizenship – these people might all be interested. If you still
don’t have any luck, get in touch with us and we will be happy to
come to your school to tell staff more about the project, or put
them in touch with other schools that are running cafés so that they
can go and see for themselves how it works.
- We can’t think of a topic?
- The project organiser will offer lots of help on potential
topics but if none of these seem interesting, look around you. See
what news items spark your interest in papers or magazines or on
television, radio or online. The
science pages are excellent and
Royal Society (Britain’s oldest science society) produces a
breakdown of science in the news every day. The Project Organiser
and Assistant Organiser are here to help: let us know your ideas,
however tentative and we will do our best to help you come up with
something. We've listed some possible topics
- Someone from the team lets us down?
- The key to reducing problems is good communication. Define
responsibilities clearly and have regular meetings to update on
progress. Then it should be possible to identify difficulties early
on, reducing the risk of major problems on the day of the café. Key
players, especially the chair, should have an understudy in case of
illness or other problems.
- The speaker doesn’t show up?
- Make sure that you have agreed and confirmed all the details
with your speaker, including date and time, well in advance. Arrange
with the speaker for him or her to arrive in plenty of time, say
half an hour before your café is due to start. Make sure the teacher
co-ordinator has the speaker’s mobile telephone number and that the
speaker has a way of getting in touch with you (remember, you are
likely to be dashing around setting up the room, arranging drinks
etc.). Have a plan in place beforehand in case something unforeseen
occurs, such as the speaker being unable to make it. (In this case,
it’s a good idea to have a back-up topic, which you have prepared
some information on, so that you can still hold a discussion, though
it will probably be shorter than normal. The project organiser can
help you to prepare this.)
- The speaker isn’t what we expected?
- If your speaker talks on a topic that is different from what you
expected, isn’t great at explaining things or good at putting their
point across, remember that the speaker is only a starting point for
the café. A poor speaker doesn’t have to lead to a poor discussion.
The team can ask questions and make comments to try and encourage
debate. After all, you have chosen your topic because it is
something that you are interested in and have opinions on –
- The audience is very small?
- Small audiences don’t mean that your café isn’t a success. A
smaller group can mean that you can get into more in-depth
discussion of the topic and that everyone has a chance to get their
voice heard. Don’t worry; just enjoy the chance to get really stuck
in. Afterwards, ask yourself why the audience was smaller than you
hoped. Could your publicity be improved? Was the choice of topic the
problem? Ask the people who did attend why they came and whether it
was what they expected. Use the information that you get to change
the way that you promote your next event.
- No one has any questions or comments?
- There are a few ways to encourage debate. First, you have
opinions about this topic, so you should have questions and comments
from the organising team at least. There are lots of different
ice-breaking activities the chair can have up their sleeve if talk
runs dry – talk to the project organisers about preparing one or