Booking guidelines for family events

Guidelines for booking CHaOS family events

What are these guidelines for?

CHaOS have over ten years of experience in running science roadshows, and over this time we have learnt about what helps to make an event work well. For a number of years we've usually discussed these details with individuals/groups/venues that make further enquiries about a CHaOS visit, but we've now decided to post them here on our website to give all interested parties a chance to look at the details of a typical CHaOS event. (For instance, we want to avoid repeating a misunderstanding that took place at a school, which left us with no indoor space to run our experiments on a field with scattered showers!).

These guidelines are for a typical CHaOS Science Roadshow family event. Variations from these standard arrangements may be possible, but must be discussed with the CHaOS team at the time of booking in order to ensure that everyone gets the greatest value from the visit.

If you have any queries about these guidelines please don't hesitate to contact the CHaOS team, as our main interest is to make school visits fun and as easy as possible for everyone. Please fill in our webform here, or drop us an email to

1. What you can expect from CHaOS

We will provide:

  • Around 12-15 enthusiastic volunteer scientists or "demonstrators", each staffing a fun hands-on science experiment. Most of our demonstrators are science students at the University of Cambridge, though we often bring some graduates too!
  • All of the specialist equipment and expertise needed to run the event.
  • Sessions aimed at a level that is engaging and exciting for a wide age range of children and their families
  • Prompt and helpful answers to any queries that you might have about the event, and a willingness to be as flexible as we can be with how the event is run.

You will be glad to know that we take safety extremely seriously, in particular note that:

  • Each of our experiments is risk-assessed by competent members of the CHaOS committee, and the risk assessments of all but the very newest experiments are available on our website at
  • These risk assessments are checked each year by appropriate staff members of the University of Cambridge.
  • Mains electrical items are subject to PAT testing by the Health and Safety Department of the University of Cambridge.
  • CHaOS events are covered by public liability insurance, under the University of Cambridge Public Liability Insurance. Further details are available on request.

2. What CHaOS needs from a host venue

We are keen to make this event as educational and exciting as possible for your visitors. In order to do this, we expect the following from you:

2.1: Space

  • Sufficient indoor space to host the roadshow. This is usually either a main hall, two/three rooms, or a marquee.
  • Access to 6-10 tables/desks to set out some of our experiments, along with some electrical power and access to a water tap (it is not absolutely essential that the water is in the same room as we'll be running the workshop).
  • Vehicle access nearby is essential for loading/ unloading, and parking throughout the day is very useful.
  • In the event of good weather, it is great if we can have access to some relatively nearby outdoor space to run messier or larger experiments if possible.

2.2: Format of the sessions

  • Unless otherwise stated, we tend to open our events to the public from 12-5pm. Please let us know as soon as possible if this will be difficult at your venue.

2.3: Supervision by venue staff

  • We expect that members of school staff will be present to supervise the event; typically you should be providing a similar level of supervision to what you would for a normal lesson. We require at least one member of staff per area/room.
  • Many members of staff (including non-scientists) comment to us how much they enjoyed spending a lesson seeing their pupils engaged in practical activities!
  • CHaOS does not provide first-aiders, and we expect to be informed how to contact a school first-aider on the day of the visit.

2.4: Setting up our experiments

  • We need to allow around 2 hours to set up our equipment for the roadshow.
  • We generally prefer to set up the evening before the event. If this is not possible, we may be unable to start the event at the very beginning of the school day.
  • The time we arrive to set up will vary depending on where we are travelling from, but typically might be around 4.00- 6.00pm if we are coming from an event at another school some distance away.
  • We will usually bring three vehicles: an equipment van, a MPV and a car. It is extremely useful if parking is available for the van as close as possible to an appropriate door, at least for the setup. If parking is likely to be difficult on the day of the event, please think about this in advance and let us know the arrangements.
  • On the day of the visit, we need access to the venue at least 1 hour before the first session is due to start.
  • It's disruptive for us and reduces time available for the hands-on sessions if we have to move our equipment during the day. If your school hall is essential for school lunch it might be easiest all round if we can set up in two classrooms instead.

3. The CHaOS Child Protection Policy

We recognise that child protection, and the legal issues surrounding it, is increasingly important for schools today. As such, CHaOS have an up-to-date, extensively-researched Child Protection Policy, which can be found on our website at In particular, please note that:

  • By the time of the school visit, all demonstrators present will have applied for enhanced disclosures from the CRB. The CHaOS child protection officer assesses CRB disclosures to ensure that volunteers meet the relevant requirements of our child protection policy.
  • CHaOS stores information on whether demonstrators have a valid CRB disclosure, along with sufficient information to relate the CRB disclosure to a named volunteer should a query arise. However, note that we are not legally allowed to show schools CRB disclosure forms for individual volunteers.
  • Recently, some schools have required all demonstrators to present photographic ID. This will only be possible if you have informed us that this is required by June 1st (for a summer visit) or at the time of booking for other CHaOS visits, and in some cases may incur additional costs.
  • Where we can, we like to take photographs of events to use for CHaOS publicity purpose. We are aware that this is not always possible, and we will respect your school's policy. However, please let us know whether or not this is an option, or if you'll be taking photographs yourself as we are very grateful for suitable photographs that are passed on!

4. Costs of a CHaOS school visit

  • Away from Cambridge most school visits costs us about £600 to run, not counting the contribution of the time of our volunteers. Most of these costs are covered by charitable sponsorship, but we ask schools to make a contribution towards the cost of a visit. If we're able to visit you without camping our costs are lower, so we ask for a smaller contribution for visits to Cambridgeshire schools.
  • The standard financial contribution required from schools in 2012 is £85 for a day visit from Cambridge, or £150 for a summer event where we will need to camp near your school. This can be adjusted for schools in difficult financial circumstances if agreed by the CHaOS committee in advance of confirming your booking.
  • It is helpful if your school can provide us with lunch (eg a school dinner), as this minimises the amount of time demonstrators must spend shopping/preparing lunch during the day.
  • The agreed total contribution will be billed as an invoice that we will bring on the day of the event, and is usually payable within one month of the visit occuring.

5. Confirming your booking

  • If we're travelling away from Cambridge to visit you we may need to make you booking provisional until we can find other nearby schools who'd also like us to visit, but we'll make this clear in our emails to you.
  • Once we’ve confirmed the date of your booking we will do our absolute best to maintain this commitment. In the past 5 years the only late-notice cancellation was when a school was closed due to a swine flu outbreak!
  • We ask that you also maintain the commitment to hosting the visit, as the CHaOS Science Roadshow can only visit a limited number of schools each year and we have to turn away many schools who request visits from us.

6. Extras for your visit

CHaOS want to make the most of each school visit: please let us know you've got any more ideas for fun things on the day!

In the past we've been interviewed by the school newspaper and the local papers and radio, run after-school sessions for parents as well as the kids, have had lunch with sixth formers, and have put on extra talks for year 9s. We're willing to do these for your school where we can, but we just ask that you let us know in advance!

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