"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, how to transport 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, whether it should be active, passive, or both, and what resources you will need. Think about the following scenarios:

  • Were you invited/did you volunteer to participate in a festival?
  • Will you be inside or outside?
  • Are you going to a school or another inside venue? See Working with Children in the Outreach Tips Section for details on this aspect.
  • Examples of shows: Stage show, hands-on booths, make’n take workshops, street fairs

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 or discuss alternatives. This is not only an essential operations step in doing a Physics on the Road 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, 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
  • Where to unload
  • Parking – do you need to get parking validation before or after the show? Will   the venue pay/arrange for parking, or are you on your own? Where should   you park?
  • Tables – Do you have to set them up or are they already set up? How many do you   need? – this varies depending upon whether you are doing a   straightforward demo show, vs. a hands-on “active” experience, for   example at a science fair or festival. Will they have enough tables for   your needs?

At your site visit, confirm the following:

  • Audience   size/Audience type
  • If   this is a school, will there be teachers or parents as chaperones?  How many? See Working With Children for tips. 
  • Length   of show requested – has the host requested a specific length of time for   the show, or is that up to you? If it is up to you, this will depend on   your own interests, schedule, what demos you want to perform, and how   you want the show to be executed (active or passive or both)
  • 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

  • How much help will I need?
  • 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 loaded into your vehicle both before and after the event
  • 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