Demonstrator Diary

Demonstrator Diary

A day in the life of a demonstrator on the CHaOS Summer Roadshow

We know that it might be hard to imagine what you’ve signed up for when you volunteer for the CHaOS Summer Roadshow, so we’ve put together a couple of demonstrator “blogs” to describe what it’s like to be a demonstrator at a public event, a school and a Jamboree.

These blogs mention some of the highlights of the CHaOS Summer Roadshow; lots of fun experiments, meeting kids and families, camping BBQs and last but not least wearing our stylish blue CHaOS T-shirts!

Public events

Public events are the most varied type of event on the summer roadshow, they can be in a library, shopping area, museum or simply a marquee on a high street.

In Birmingham, we head to the MAC which I’ve been to the year before as well. It is a venue with a lot of footfall, so is expected to be a busy day! We’re planning on demonstrating 12pm to 5pm, so aim to arrive by 10:30 am and have time to scout the venue and set up. I’m demonstrating cantilever bridges today, which I set up quickly. I have time to help others unpack the van, find power and set up their experiments.

While demonstrating, I have a generic spiel ready and can vary it depending on the age of the children I see or the answers they apply. I also encourage them to test the strength of the bridges they build by encouraging them to build a tower over the river, as this adds to the fun of the experiment!

Lunch is taken in shifts with the floating committee member either covering the demonstration or making it safe. In the evening, we plan on going to the cinema, with a committee member creating a simple survey to gauge interest and see which film was preferred out of those shown. Once we are all packed up, we head to Sainsbury’s for pizza before the cinema, and chance for people to buy extra snacks to have whilst watching the film.

Demonstrating Blood Groups


A very early wake up call as we need to leave by 6:30am to drive across Birmingham to our first school (not every day is quite this early!).  The advantage of this is you get to see how few people are commuting before 7:15am (or you could take a nap like most other people did). We get breakfast at the school before we set up for the first few lessons of the day.

I’m demonstrating air streams so I need to find some power sockets, set up our big air blowers and blow up some beach balls. Today we have years 7, 8 and 9 for the first 4 lessons, and sixth formers in the final lesson of the day. I really enjoy demonstrating and passing on my enthusiasm to small groups of students, whilst ensuring everyone gets a chance to be involved and ask questions. With the sixth formers in the afternoon, I get a chance to build on my explanations and have much more lengthy discussions with smaller groups, as well as answering any questions they have on university life.

Lunch brings a chance to discuss our plans for our BBQuarty (BBQ and party) back at camp in the evening – social highlight of the week! Tomorrow is a travel day, giving us more time to enjoy our evening and relax.  With schools, we’re usually done in the early afternoon when school ends, so are back to camp by 5pm, ready to cook and relax!


This is a county wide scout camp with between two and four thousand people attending. There are a variety of activity zones for scouts to go to during the day, and CHaOS are either on our own or part of a Science zone (once we’ve been alongside craft!)

Unusually for CHaOS events, these involve camping on site where the demonstrations take place so the commute is minimal – just walking across a field! We’ve set up the experiments in our marquee beforehand and helped marshal the scouts at the opening ceremony. Therefore, despite starting a 9am a relative lie in can be had depending on if you want a shower before breakfast or not – something I greatly appreciated.

Today I’m demonstrating a blend of IR and polarisation on our making waves section. Scouts come and go during the day and I seem to spend most of the morning talking to one group after another. In the afternoon I switch to my favourite experiment “Spinny Chair” and get to entertain a lot of scouts by talking about spinniness (angular momentum).

Time flies by and one or two people head off a few minutes early to get tea started whilst everyone else tidies up so it’s ready for the next day. The evenings of a Jamboree either involve us having a chat in the bar, or having a go at the other activities in the evening like escape rooms, inflatables, shooting/archery etc.