Science Café Woo blends science and fun
If you think science can’t be fun or interesting, you must not know about Science Café Woo. This group’s goal is to bring local scientists and the public together to discuss how science and research apply to everyday life.
“Worcester is a great community with amazing research projects that are changing the way that we see medicine, robotics, biomedical research, etc.,” said Ana Maldonado, co-organizer of Science Café Woo. “We want to share our passion and also change the stereotype of scientists being nerdy, not interesting and socially awkward. The challenge is on both sides: For scientists to break the ice and stereotype, and for the community to see science and us as something different.”
Science Café Woo holds discussions at 6:30 p.m. every third Monday of the month at NU Café, 335 Chandler St., Worcester, at no charge. During these meetings, local scientists interact with the Worcester community in an open discussion about the science happening locally, their passion for all things science, discoveries they have made through research and how their work relates to our day-to-day lives.
Science Café Woo first started in 2013, when Maldonado and co-organizer, Kelly Hallstrom, got together and recognized the need for this movement in the Worcester area. They began building the Facebook page, searching for venues to hold the meetings and making Science Café Woo a reality. “May 2013 was our first event with a guest speaker with MIT. He did an excellent job. People were really engaged,” Maldonado said.
Maldonado and Hallstrom eventually found NU Café to hold their meetings, and the location couldn’t be more perfect. “We are very lucky to have [NU Café] as a venue and Josh Van Dyke of NU Café to help us,” Maldonado added.
Science Café Woo is part of the worldwide Science Café effort powered by NOVA, a science series on PBS. NOVA provides support for all Science Café groups as they make the effort to get the science word out to different communities. “NOVA kind of acts as a kick-start for the first event. They help you with tips, how to present, etc.” Maldonado said.
Since its beginning, Science Café Woo has been successful, bringing in members of the community each month and expanding its reach. “We have 12 UMass Medical School volunteers; we have won a grant from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; we have partnered with the EcoTarium … we are really growing,” Maldonado said.
“We are very excited about this year’s speakers. Word has spread, so people are very enthusiastic about presenting,” Maldonado said.
What’s most rewarding to Maldonado, her team and the speakers is making an impact on the community with their efforts.
“One of the best moments in the short time we have been doing this was when a father just happened to be in the café with his son during one of our meetings,” Maldonado said. “The speaker was very engaging, with amazing stories and photos. The son was so excited and began listening in to the discussion. At the end, the son told his dad he wanted to be a scientist. That’s exactly what we want to do.”
For more information about Science Café Woo, visit sciencecafewoo.com.