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So you want to do an Open House ?
Giving lab tours can be great fun not only for the visitors but also for the tour guide(s). It is a great way to showcase your department and your university. It also can build camaraderie among you and your colleagues. The key with open houses is to ensure that the labs/demos that the visitors are viewing are appropriate for their age level and knowledge, and are, to be blunt, not boring. A lab where visitors can see physics in action is much more exciting than a visit to someone’s office where they explain their research. However, this doesn’t mean that theorists have to be left out of an Open House – theorists who explain their work in a dynamic way while showing perhaps a computer simulation can be a winning aspect of an Open House for adults and high or middle school kids. But if you are doing an Open House for younger kids, be aware that seeing the particle accelerator is much more exciting than hearing about the mythical “Higgs Boson”.
Note: Of course you can have an Open House which is exactly that – you open the doors and let whoever wants to float in off the street. This is not recommended for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is safety concerns. So for the purpose of this Guide, Open Houses refers to a series of lab tours within your department that are open to a specific subset of the public.
For advice, ideas and success stories, contact an expert.