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How to Start a Science Seminar Series in your School

Documents & Resources

Download the whole "How to Start a Science Seminar in Your School" packet here.(Coming soon) Check out ScienceCafes.org!

If you are a teacher at a school, you already have a leg up on getting the series started. One of the more challenging aspects of organizing the seminar in my experience (not being a teacher) has been to encourage teachers to offer the targeted extra credit, which ensures that motivated students attend while filtering out any nuisance factor. Giving extra credit for just attending tends to lead to an overcrowding situation (we meet in a classroom) in which some students show up, sign in, and then don't pay attention during the presentation, leave mid-way, and other nuisance behaviors. Since implementing the targeted extra credit policy those problems are gone and attendance is appropriate.

If you are not a teacher, the first thing you should do is get buy-in from at least two science teachers in your school who teach in different areas. Biology and Physics are good choices as they should cover most biomed and engineering presentations. If you can get Biology and Chemistry and a Physics or Math teacher who teaches upper level math, that would be ideal.

Find a place, get approval, learn about the paperwork. You will need a regular place to meet that has an LCD projector, a screen and a computer with speakers. You can purchase a cheap sound system for the speaker if the school doesn't have one. We meet in a classroom. If you feel you can fill an auditorium, go for it, but that can be challenging to fill on a regular basis. Schools generally have paperwork that needs to be filled out in order to use their rooms. If there are insurance considerations you may need to get approval from an administrator or sponsorship by a home and school club or other official campus entity. Your school's or district's facilities or activities director should be able to assist you with this. Some science cafes meet in public places like coffee shops or libraries. You can also explore those venues if you choose.

Find speakers. This is a topic unto itself. Please download and read Finding Speakers for Your Science Café or Science Seminar. You can also adapt our speaker form and guide, both of which can be found on the Speakers Page. We have a Home & School Club which pays a $100 honorarium for speakers, but most will come for free. If no honorarium is available, do have a thank you card and a small gift like some cider and chocolate to show your appreciation. :-)

Book Dates. Offering dates to prospective speakers has to be done carefully so as to avoid double-booking and conflicts with the students' calendars. Please download and read How to Schedule & Book Dates for your Science Seminar.

Public Relations & Outreach. Besides providing flyers for download and distribution to local science teachers, you will want to use conventional and online social media to get the word out about your events. Please download and read Public Relations & Outreach for your Science Seminar.

How to Run your Event. Please download and read How to Run a Science Seminar Event. This document includes info. on how to handle the event itself and follow-up.

    MSS Extra Credit Form: This extra credit form is available in print format at all Marin Science Seminars. You can download it in MS Word format and customize it for your students or print out the .pdf. Offering targeted extra credit via this form encourages students to pay attention during the presentation, to think of questions, and to take notes. The summary section provides an opportunity to distill their thoughts on the talk. Students sign in at all Marin Science Seminars and can have their extra credit form signed by one of the adults running the session.

    Download the Extra Credit Form: MS Word - Adobe .pdf

    Flyer Template: Here are samples of our flyers in MS Word. You can customize them to fit your seminars and events.
    Semester flyer *
    Event Flyer

    Speaker form and guide can be downloaded on the Speakers Page.

    Sign-In Sheet

Questions?: Email Alfia at marinscienceseminar@gmail.com