Science Communication: The Front Range Teen Science Cafe

From 30,000 years ago to today, it hasn’t been climate change, human population growth, or air and water pollution causing the extinctions of the cute, fuzzy, and feathery animals we love – it has been a relatively small number of totally irresponsible adults. So says Dr. Tom Stohlgren a funny, irreverent scientist at NREL who wears Hawaiian shirts every day. A renowned ecologist, Dr. Stohlgren’s flyin’ Hawaiian (shirt) style is easily accessible to young scientists such as those at the recent Front Range Teen Science Café event. On April 8, Dr. Stohlgren spoke to the Café, a collection of 30 or so high school students and a handful of parents and bystanders, to educate them about invasive species and the need to control industries that spread them around the globe. Mixing ample humor and animated expressions, Dr. Stohlgren inspired many of the students who have since emailed him articles about invasive species found in the newspaper.

DSCN1952The Teen Science Café is hosted by the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP), a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center housed at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at CSU. The Teen Science Café is an opportunity for local teens to hear from scientists in STEM fields ranging from ecology and astrophysics to atmospheric and climate science.

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The Teen Science Café is one of the many ways that scientists can connect with their community. Opportunities like this provide a fun venue to discuss science and introduce young scientists to the varied disciplines in their community. Whether it’s taking the “who-done-it” out species extinctions or discussing climate models, public outreach is an important component of science communication.