Assessing the impact of a student-led science cafe on science literacy in the community
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Among the general population of gifted and talented students, there are some who stay interested in school. Others quickly become bored, beginning as early as kindergarten. Many of them choose to dropout before high school graduation. Science literacy among the general population of the United States is not keeping pace with the high level of research that is being done across the nation. Many people are fearful of science and have little or no confidence in their ability to understand it. In our schools, it has become commonplace to de-emphasize science education to make more time for math and reading instruction. This study represents an effort to improve the level of science literacy in the local community by using gifted and talented students to lead discussions on current science research during evening science cafe sessions. At the same time, this practice provides opportunity for the gifted and talented students to immerse themselves in topics they feel passionate about. As determined by survey results and interviews, those gifted students who chose to become the resident expert and take on this task of discussion leader found greater purpose in school as well as a desire to stay in school. The data also revealed that, within the sample population, levels of interest in science increased, and the degree of science literacy improved, as determined by survey results and interviews.