At the end of our videos we have a slide that reads: “CheMagic is Otis Rothenberger, James Webb & Friends”. Our friends are those who attend our presentation. We estimate that in the 20 years of giving “Is It Chemistry or Magic?” presentations, we have had a total audience of over 20,000 ranging in ages from7 to ?.
During our presentation, we ask members of the audience to help us with some demonstrations. Engaging the audience is an important part of our outreach presentation. It establishes rapport, and it is especially entertaining when we have a young audience.
Our presentation has evolved over the years in part through the valuable comments our friends give us. Oh sure, their applause at the end satisfy our egos, but their suggestions help us to improve our program.
Some of our best critics are teachers. In our early years, a teacher, who had seen our presentation several times, commented that we only select boys to assist with a demonstration. Obviously, this was entirely unintentional. Since then we always ask a girl as well as a boy to assist us. We further make the point that chemistry is a profession suited to females as well as males. According to American Chemical Society statistics, after the year 2001, an equal number of men and women have received B.S. degrees in chemistry.
Regarding audience feedback, some outreach presenters advocate pre- and post-tests to measure the effectiveness of the presentation. We agree! Below is an example of one of our “post-tests”. You can’t get more definitive than that, can you?
Check out the video below. It is a follow-up to the Acidic-Blues video. It also shows another view of our presentation setup waiting for our friends to show up.