A science café, Zabuki, that we launched for children in the Dutch town of Deventer in 2008 is hugely successful — attracting around 70 schoolchildren every month (http://www.zabuki.nl). We also organize an annual two-day science festival with the local teacher-training schools, to which some 800 children came last year. We urge other towns to launch similar initiatives to encourage more kids to engage with science and technology.
Like science cafés for adults (Nature 399, 120; 1999), Zabuki is run by volunteers — usually parents. Trainee primary-school teachers also help regularly as part of their assignments. The children (aged 7–12) suggest themes that are developed in smaller workshops with the help of a local expert. Local companies volunteer materials and expertise.
The cafés offer children a hands-on scientific challenge in a stimulating, non-school context, where they can explore themes voluntarily that they might not otherwise investigate or discuss. Topics have included robotics, architecture and life in a ditch.
Children pay 4 (about US$6) towards expenses and refreshments; the remainder of the 700 cost per café is sponsored by the region. Volunteers spend 2–8 hours a month organizing the cafe.