Bringing science to life

Steve Hulme wants to get together with other science fans to discuss great things. - Neil Horner photo
Steve Hulme wants to get together with other science fans to discuss great things.
— image credit: Neil Horner photo

Steve Hulme is passionate about science, and he’s confident he’s not the only one.

The Parksville health care worker wants to know for sure however, before he puts that passion fully to work, organizing a science cafe for the Oceanside region.

Hulme, who works as a liaison with forensic psychiatric services, said he has always been interested in science and he would like to share that passion with other area residents by holding monthly science cafes.

The idea, he said, is to provide a venue where people interested in anything from environmentalism to subatomic physics can listen to speakers and explore ideas in an informal, supportive atmosphere.

“A science cafe is a grassroots organization that originally started in Europe, where cafes tend to be a little bit more educational or philosophically-oriented,” he said. “It’s not just a place to get a coffee and a piece of pie. It’s more a venue for discussion.”

When the idea came to North America about 25 years ago, he added, it took off like wildfire, with people hungry for open discussion of ideas with other inquiring minds.

“Canada is just starting to get on board,” Hulme said. “There is a variety of science cafes in Canada, most of which are tied to universities. The most prominent is the Simon Fraser University philosopher’s cafe.”

What he’s looking for, he said, is between 20 and 40 people who would attend monthly cafes to hear speakers talk on a wide variety of topics, before throwing open the floor to open discussion.

“I want to have an expert explain, in layman’s terms, something from science and technology and then see what discussion and questions people might have,” he said. “It’s amazing, the variety of insights you get and how dramatically they can change the flow of conversation. It’s a collective learning experience, using the Socratic method. It brings science to the average layman.”

That’s key, he added.

He doesn’t want people to think this group is for eggheads only.

Anyone with a sincere interest in science is welcome to attend.

“I really want to be inclusive,” he said.

“I don’t want to exclude the backdoor guy who doesn’t have university credentials but is, for instance, designing vehicles. I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated. Our world is driven by technology and I think people need to be aware.”

Hulme, who has started several inventors’ groups in the past, said he is confident the knowledge base in Oceanside is considerable, with the high number of retired scientists, engineers  and other professionals living in the area.

However, he knows from experience how much work it is to organize such an undertaking and he wants to make sure there’s enough interest in the wonders of the world — and beyond — to make his idea fly.

Anyone who would like to take part in such a group is asked to contact Hulme at


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