A growing interest in science cafes in America?

Reuters reports on a supposedly growing trend: science cafes.

Science cafes have sprouted in almost every state including a tapas restaurant near downtown Orlando where Sean Walsh, 27, a graphic designer, describes himself and his friends as some of the laymen in the crowd…

But the typical participant brings at least some college-level education or at least a lively curiosity, said Edward Haddad, executive director of the Florida Academy of Sciences, which helped start up Orlando’s original cafe and organizes the events…

Haddad said the current national push to increase the number of U.S. graduates in science, technology, engineering and math, or the STEM fields, is driving up the number of science cafes…

The U.S. science cafe movement grew out of Cafe Scientifique in the United Kingdom. The first Cafe Scientifique popped up in Leeds in 1998 as a regularly scheduled event where all interestedĀ parties could participate in informal forums about the latest in science and technology.

I’m dubious that this is that big of a movement just because “almost every state” now has a science cafe. This is similar to journalists claiming that something is popular because there is a Facebook group devoted to it.

But, this sounds like a fascinating example of a “third place” where Americans can gather between home and work, learn, and interact with others interested in similar topics. In fact, it sounds more like a Parisian salon of the 1800s. However, the article also mentions these cafes are probably more attractive to the NPR crowd and I imagine many Americans would not want to go discuss science in a cafe.

I wonder if the news coverage would be different if Americans were gathering in cafes to talk about other topics. How about The Bachelor? The tea party? Religion? The tone of the article is that it is more unusual for Americans to want to hear about and discuss science when they are not being forced to.

h/t Instapundit

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