"How to" Guide

1. Identify your audience

  • Size
  • Age
  • Level of knowledge they have
  • Level of knowledge you want to convey
  • Time limit and attention span
  • Nature of the audience
  • How will they respond to the use of fire, smoke, loud sounds?
  • Do they have certain needs? For example, could there be blind or deaf people? If so, will you need a translator?

2. Talk to your Physics Support Specialist, aka "Demo God"

This is the person who is going to help you with everything related to the Demos. They are going to provide advice about what demos you should perform, how to perform them, the Safety Issues associated with each demo, and any and all other logistical issues associated with obtaining, presenting, and returning the equipment needed. So it is very important for you to work with this person well in advance of your show. Once a date is established, will they be available to help you? Is the equipment you want available the date you need it? Talk to him/her before you commit to any show to iron out these details

3. Identify your venue

Identifying, knowing and visiting the venue are extremely important. It will help you determine what demos you want to do, how you want to present the show, and what resources you will need. At first thought, you might think that the auditorium in the physics building is the best choice for your show. After all, it is in the building that is home to the Demos, so you won’t have to transport them. Plus the department’s Demo God won’t have to go anywhere to help you with your performance. On the other hand, the auditorium might be in use at the time and date you want it, it might not have enough seats for your expected audience, it might not be near parking spots for your guests or in a location on campus that is confusing to access, or it might not provide the best view of demos for all audience members, among many other issues.

Each venue scenario is different and determines the course of your organization plan and how you will present the show. So once the venue has been determined, and before you do the show, suggest a site visit. This is not only an essential operations step in doing a Demo Show, but it will also help you select which Demos you will be presenting, and will help you figure out what resources you need to execute the show. At the site or over the phone, determine the following:

  • Place of the performance – is it a stage? Is it in the middle of a crowd? Will you be performing on and off a stage? Will you be walking through a crowd? Note the following regarding the performance space, whether it is a stage or not:
    • Space within the performance space/stage – is there enough space to perform certain Demos? For example: Is there an open tile floor to do a hover craft demo? Is there outside space for potato cannon?
    • Size of stage
    • Site lines from the stage – is the stage elevated?
    • Structure of stage – is there a backstage or is it just a platform or elevated area? Is there a curtain?
  • Audio/video possibilities and locations –Is there an LCD projector and a computer already in the room? If you are doing something with a piece of software, is your program compatible with their computer? Will there be a microphone? What kind? How many?
  • Power possibilities - where are the electrical outlets? Will extension cords be needed?
  • Water possibilities and accessibility points
  • Lighting possibilities – will you need a spotlight? Will there be someone who can run the lighting if needed? For your Demos, will you have enough and the right light? For example, will it be dark enough to do the Tesla Coil Demo?
  • Safety rules – know the safety rules of the venue and know your own Safety procedures
  • Garbage possibilities
  • Custodian’s name
  • Supervisor’s name
  • If it is not in your department, how will you transport your items?
  • Parking –Where should your guests park? Do you have to get permission from the campus Parking Department beforehand to have them park there?
  • If this is for a school group, will there be teachers or parents as chaperones? How many? See Working With Children for tips.
  • How much time for set up? How much time before the program can you set up?
  • How much time for tear down? When do you absolutely have to be out of the venue?

4. Organize and plan the show

  • Is there a theme to the Show? For example, at the University of Arizona, Expert Alaina G. Levine presented shows such as “The Physics of Flubber” and “The Physics of Star Wars” with demos that related to the theme (for “Flubber”, there were demos relating to solid-state physics and materials physics, and for “Star Wars”, there was demos relating to space, propulsion, and light sabers, aka Tesla Coils). A theme makes the show easier to organize and promote. Whether or not you have a theme (related to subjects of demos), you should have a catchy title, such as “Physics Phun Nite”.
  • How much help will I need? Recruit volunteers to assist.
  • Pick your demos, and make sure the demos decided on incorporate the level of understanding of your full audience
  • Create an outline of what you want to do, the order of the demos, comments you might make for each demo, etc. (Note: don’t feel you have to stick to your pre-determined comments if you are losing the audience’s attention)
  • Practice, and have your team practice also
  • Have an equipment checklist and check items off as they are organized before and after the show
  • Organize the demos and equipment backstage in a way that makes it easy for you to get to them during the show
  • Get to the venue early and do a run through of the more challenging demos, if at all possible
  • Thank your team and the venue for hosting you