Volunteering with CHaOS
CHaOS is a student society that runs fun science outreach events, mostly outside of term time. We’re open to everyone at Cambridge from first years to postdocs, so if you love science, and want to demonstrate it to the public, consider voluntering for our next event!
Every year we run a summer roadshow where we take a van full of experiments and camping supplies, a minibus full of volunteers and a large supply of enthusiasm and tour the country showing schools and families that science is fun and accessible to all. The roadshow takes place in July and August, and you can come for a few days to a couple of weeks (we don’t expect anyone to do all 7 weeks!). If you like explaining science to the public, camping and BBQs, the CHaOS roadshow could be for you! CHaOS will cover your travel and living expenses, so volunteering will only cost your time.
You can find out more about the Summer Roadshow by looking at what we did last time (with plenty of photos) in the shiny roadshow reports or reading our demonstrator diary. We also have a FAQ below and some top tips for a summer roadshow.
Crash, Bang, Squelch
Our biggest one day event is “Crash, Bang, Squelch” (CBS) at the end of Lent term. It’s part of the Cambridge science festival, and we have over 50 experiments, as well as talks and a robotics workshop. You can volunteer for a morning, afternoon or both and help us see over 2000 visitors.
Our Winter roadshow takes place at the end of Michaelmas and start of the Christmas break. All the venues are in Cambridge, so no camping, but they’re still great fun. We visit schools, and are usually at the Mill Road Winter Fair on the Saturday.
We attend a number of public events on weekends throughout the year such as the popular PhysicsFests run by the Institute of Physics. We provide transport from central Cambridge, lunch, and sometimes pizza for dinner too!
Sign Up to Volunteer...
If you’re a Cambridge University student and would like to volunteer with CHaOS, then, sign up for the main CHaOS email list (Soc-chaos-interested), where we let interested people know when we have an event coming up at the end of term. There is a second email list (), for those also interested in term-time events.
Find out more...
CHaOS is a student society that has been running events since the Cambridge Science Festival in 1998. We build most of our own experiments, and are funded by the University of Cambridge and a number of charitable organisations. Our events are organised by the committee (which you can join at our AGM each October) and hundreds of Cambridge STEM students have demonstrated for us. See more about us here.
Our volunteers come from all science-related subjects (Nat Scis, Medics and Vets, Engineers, Mathmos and more) and range from first year undergraduates to final year PhD students. Some have explained science to the public before, but most of us did this for the first time at a CHaOS event! The format of our events is that small groups (half a dozen school pupils, or a family or two at a time) roam between different hands-on demos, each explained by a friendly volunteer. We offer training before our events to help introduce you to a sample of experiments, but regardless people always pick it up very quickly! A pdf is also available. The ideas are simple, but with enthusiastic and interested demonstrators we can show children that science isn’t a ‘boring’ subject! The experiments have (mostly) interesting and (largely) useful descriptions to explain the science and if you are unsure there are always friendly committee members on hand to help you out – don’t be afraid to ask for tips!
If you’re a Cambridge University student, you can sign up for the main CHaOS email list (Soc-chaos-interested) on the Sympa system. This is where we let interested people know when we have an event coming up at the end of term for which we would like volunteers. There is a second email list (), for those also interested in term-time events (usually on a Sunday).
If you’ve got any questions you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have nearly 100 active experiments (though we all have our favourites) covering Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Medicine, Mathematics, Geology, Computer Science and Materials Science. You can find some examples and further details by viewing our experiment gallery.
You’ll be fine, many of our volunteers are not experienced campers! All the camp sites we visit have toilets and shower blocks, and there’s always more experienced people to help with putting up tents and cooking. We provide most equipment, although you need to bring a sleeping bag and roll mat.
We also run many events where you don’t have to camp, like our Winter Roadshow, and “Crash, Bang, Squelch” at the end of Lent.
If you do enough events with us then you might. If so we will let you know and organise the application – all you’ll have to do is fill in a form.