Further Your Café

Themed Cafés

Themed cafés provide background resources, discussion questions, videos, and more to help you focus the conversation in your café.  NOVA provides resources to run “themed” Science Cafés which you can find here.

Using trivia

Trivia questions that mix popular culture references with science questions related to the café’s topic can contribute to the lighthearted and inclusive café spirit. Trivia contests are also a good way to get people talking as they begin to gather for your café. Prizes, such as science-themed giveaways (videos, books, etc.) or a gift certificate to the venue, add to the fun.

Set some simple ground rules, such as no smart phones or other electronic devices to find answers. Whether you make up your own questions or not, be sure that the questions and answers are clear and correct—ambiguous ones can create an unnecessary distraction at this point in the evening. Remember that the trivia contest is the appetizer, not the main course. Keep it short!
There are many ways to hold a trivia contest. Begin by distributing blank sheets of paper and pencils. You can then:

  • Call out the questions and have people to write down answers on their own. When you reveal the answers, have each person score his or her neighbor’s answer sheet.


  • Ask people to form teams (or create impromptu teams yourself), and assign names or numbers for each team. Call out the questions. Teams have a set amount of time (e.g., 60 seconds, 3 minutes, etc.) to write their answers down on a slip of paper, that includinges their team’s name. You (or a volunteer) will score the results and announce the winning team either before the café starts or at the end of the event.

To see sample trivia questions—and inspire you to write your own—click here.

Yes, PBS

Your local PBS television and/or radio station may have resources to help you promote and expand the reach of your café, especially if you are using NOVA videos or other video assets connected to a PBS show.

Contact the Outreach or Station Relations department at your station, via the Website, by email, or phone. They may be able to help you promote an upcoming café on air, provide handouts, guides, or videos, recommend a scientist or expert, or even broadcast a café.

To find the PBS station nearest you, click on the PBS Station Finder.

Using Technology: Integrating Video

Although the focus of a science café meeting is human interaction, a short video can help provide quick background info (thus freeing the scientist to focus on the specific issues that he or she is most interested in) and stimulate dialogue. Since TVs are standard in so many pubs and other locations, you can easily make use of videos.

Video is also a powerful way to get the attention of people who just happen to be at the venue, and to bring them into the discussion. (Even people who may ignore a moderator’'s introduction will often be drawn in by a video.) Mixing video with the scientist’s presentation also accommodates different learning styles in among the audience.

Here are tips for using video at your café:

  • Choose Be sure that the venue you have chosen has a venue with audio-visual capabilities. Test them beforehand—even before booking the venue, if possible—to make sure they work properly.
  • Use video at the beginning of a café meeting to kick off a topic. (Before the café meeting, queue up the video segment, identify the chapter or time code, and set the volume.)
  • If your clip starts in the middle of a story, you may need to make a quick intro to set the context.
  • Keep the video presentation short—five minutes or less. Anything longer may lose your audience and divert energy away from the guest scientist.
  • When you select the segment, note where it starts. If it’s in the middle of a story, you may need to provide a quick intro.

NOVA Videos

Videos from NOVA work particularly well in Science Cafés. View them online here. If you need a DVD to show a specific NOVA segment at your science café, please e-mail novaeducation@wgbh.org.


Podcasts are a great way to expand the reach of your science café. There may be a podcaster in your area who covers community and/or science topics, and who is interested in interviewing you or your presenter, or who may want to include aing video of your the café in action. as part of his or her podcast.

You may want to start your own podcast and featureing interviews with presenters and audience members, perhaps capturing before and after reactions. the audience.

Check out these links  on podcasting equipment  and an in-depth tutorial on producing a podcast.


Check out and use the videos in the following databases in your cafés:

Sciencecafes.org YouTube Playlist

Find NOVA clips as well as examples of cafes in action.

NOVA Online YouTube Channel Link

See video from NOVA’s programs as well as other interesting interviews and clips that might spark conversation!