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We hosted our first program last evening – Pushing the Limits: Connections. Considering the horrible fog and cold, we still had an audience of eight. The duration of our program was two hours, beginning at 6:00 p.m. We used the first 20 minutes to give the audience the overview and goals of Pushing the Limits, to serve refreshments, and to assure the audience that the program was informal; we encouraged folks to go to the refreshment table anytime.
Part of our program introduction included a brief discussion about the many ways STEM topics are omnipresent in our lives, so much so that we hardly notice. The audience was nicely participatory.
Using the theme of connections coupled with STEM topics, we created a presentation using selected Pushing the Limits resources, TED Talks, selections from NPR RadioLab, and Moth Radio Hour. We began with Roxanne Swentzell’s video; following the video, the group talked about the connections and the STEM content of the video. We offered five additional segments that incorporated STEM into a connections story. In total, the six segments ran just under one hour, with discussion breaks between the segments.
We asked open-ended questions after each segment. After the sixth segment, we had a lively discussion about the programming in general. Paper designed with the Pushing the Limits logo was given to each participant along with pen and clipboard at the beginning of the event to encourage note-making; this proved to be useful to the participants both to jog their memories about comments that they had wanted to make, and to record ideas and information that was generated in the discussion, by other members of the group.
Because we have never been able to get an adult book club working despite many, many tries, we had made the reading of Thunderstruck, optional. Information about the book was included in a take-home resource page, along with links and QR codes for the other resources offered in the program. Additionally, we added links for two Moth Radio podcasts, to the resource page. We also copied the New Yorker article, “Family Matters;” we cleaned up the document a bit, and changed the font and type size. For those who would rather read online, we did include the link and QR.
We also asked participants to complete a short program survey; responses were enthusiastically positive.