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STEM Mentoring Cafes - sponsored in part by the Energy Department - engage middle schoolers with science and technology professionals at local science centers and museums nationwide to inspire them to learn about a broad spectrum of energy-related career fields. source: Matty Greene/US DOE

STEM Mentoring Cafes - sponsored in part by the Energy Department - engage middle schoolers with science and technology professionals at local science centers and museums nationwide to inspire them to learn about a broad spectrum of energy-related career fields. source: Matty Greene/US DOE

From Anchorage to New York, The Energy Department’s popular Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Middle School Mentoring Cafés are on the move – and they may be visiting a city near you!

The STEM Café engages young minds at local science centers and museums around the country to instill confidence in pursuing science and engineering careers. Fifth through eighth graders and their teachers spend a half day in show-and-tell chats with federal employees in STEM careers. By pairing middle schoolers with a STEM professional, each speed-mentoring session allows students to learn about the broad spectrum of energy-related fields – including chemistry, lasers and radiation detection – while giving parents and teachers a chance to get their questions answered. The event also helps students connect the dots to real-world applications for their science and math studies.

To date, the Energy Department has hosted five cafés since December 2014, and seven more are planned. The response has been overwhelmingly positive – from teachers and students, from lab researchers and engineers who volunteer as mentors, and especially from participating science centers and museums.  

“The scientists were great,” said Mrs. Eligia David, an elementary school teacher at a café hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago last May. “They spoke to the children at their level, and the children understood a lot of what was presented. It was incredible.”

A student attending the STEM Mentoring Café at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry shared, “I learned about science and animals and space. I wish I could come every day.”

A STEM volunteer mentor at the REACH Museum in Richland, Washington said, “It was fun. I, too, wish we could have heard others’ messages.”

As a special feature, many participating science centers and museums open up their institution free of charge following the events. For some students, it can be a first-time opportunity to explore the museum.

A key program of the Minorities in Energy Initiative, DOE has partnered with the U.S. Department of Education, National Girls Collaborative Project, and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) to engage middle school students in STEM. 

STEM Mentoring Café Host

November 14, 2015
Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum/Museum of Natural History
New York City

February 4, 2016
National Geographic Museum
Washington, DC 

March 12, 2016
National Museum of Nuclear Science and History
Albuquerque, New Mexico

April 2, 2016
Children's Museum of Houston
Houston, Texas

April 20
Chabot Space and Science Center
Oakland, California