What's a good presentation for a kid's program?
September 8, 2006 12:56 AM   Subscribe

What's a fun but simple science or cooking presentation I can use in an audition for a children's show?

I've been set up for an audition for a kid's show in two days time and for this audition I have to make a 3-5 minute presentation that would appear on the show, basically a cooking or science experiment type spot. All the science experiments I can think of are boring university type ones.

So what's a good presentation that:
a) Is 3-5 minutes long
b) Kids will dig
c) Has ingredients/equipment that are easily carried (seeing as how I'll have to tote them to wear the audition is held)

Cheers in advance.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How old are these kids?
posted by edd at 1:05 AM on September 8, 2006

I've never met someone not entralled by the smashing of fruit frozen in liquid nitrogen. But then again that's not "easy" to carry around.
posted by crypticgeek at 2:50 AM on September 8, 2006

Response by poster: How old are these kids?

To be honest, I'm not hugely sure, but I'm thinking it's something like 5 to 10 (it's Disney cartoons).
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 2:55 AM on September 8, 2006

mentos and coke.
posted by b33j at 2:57 AM on September 8, 2006

Cartesian Diver with the unforgettable Dr Julius Sumner Miller
posted by b33j at 3:01 AM on September 8, 2006

This might take a little more than five minutes, but making silly putty can be a fun presentation. Maybe some of it can be done in advance.
posted by leesh at 3:18 AM on September 8, 2006

Best answer: I suspect mentos and (diet) coke may be over-represented in these auditions. Plus it's a little risky.

This guy does very well in Australian schools -- there are lots of kid-friendly science tricks on the site with lots of detail to help you prepare.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:32 AM on September 8, 2006

Do the diaper dam. Get a couple disposable diapers and disassemble one. There is a fine powder that you will need to tease out from the rest of the diaper. Set that aside for your demonstration. Do this step carefully and don't rub your eyes or nose. The polymer, sodium acrylate, is non-toxic, but it will dry the hell out of your mucous membranes.

For the demonstration, talk about polymers a little bit. They're like chains, blah, blah, blah. Each link is a monomer, blah, blah, blah. Bring up a couple kids/stagehands if you have access to them and have them become monomers by standing in the "I'm a little teapot" pose and declare that their spout is the sticky end. Stick spouts to handles and start building a polymer. Not exactly what happens, but it's kinesthetic and if you use stage hands you get to make adults look stupid(er).

Pull out the diaper and talk about how it works. Dump your carefully collected powder into a clear cup and pour in some colored water (blue if you want to abide by absorbent hygiene material advertising standards, yellow if you want 'eww', etc). The polymer will encase about a pint of water into a gel. Threaten to dump it out on someone (which it shouldn't if you plan it right) (hahaha). Then mix in some salt and watch the bonds break and the gel reliquifies which is why babies left in their diapers for too long get uncomfortable (the salt in urine breaks down the bonds in sodium acrylate).
posted by plinth at 3:47 AM on September 8, 2006 [2 favorites]

You could try measuring the speed of light with a microwave. This version uses margarine, but if you look around, you can find people who do it with chocolate chips or bars.
posted by scodger at 4:38 AM on September 8, 2006

basically a cooking or science experiment type spot

Do both. Use what looks (and is, to an extent) exactly like a science experiment to make something that turns out to be entirely edible and yummy. Use fancy scientific names, put on the smock and goggles, handle everything delicately, talk about grams and milliliters and acids and solutions and reactions, talk about the dangers of getting stuff in your eyes, the possibility of explosions if not heated properly, the possibility of dangerous poisons developing if the materials are not stored properly in a cooling device. In the end, pour the results into a beaker, review your work -- "OK, we have mixed the acid with the..." blah blah blah, pick it up carefully, and drink it.

Google stuff like "edible science experiments" for exact recipes/experiments.
posted by pracowity at 4:51 AM on September 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

Menots and Coke has been all over the place lately - it's likely that you will see someone else there at the auditions carrying a 2 liter.

I do a science program for my patrons (at the library where I work) and I have found a number of experiments on this site to be quick and easy. Even better, kids love 'em.

I would suggest, if you can bring props, this one.
I usually start out explaining how Ivory soap's ability to float came about. Both sides of the story can be fun to tell to children, especially the one that states that it was an accident. Ham it up with your own little additions.. ( the worker usually gets hungry, leaves his machine running, goes next door and eats, meets a gal he likes, chats it up, forgets all about the soap, etc....)
The talk quickly about why "popcorn pops." Then, for no reason, state that, since the soap has air trapped inside of it too, "let's see what happens when we do this!"

Then chunk the bar of soap in the microwave.

Kids are told from day one not to touch the microwave, and putting soap in there makes em all "googly eyed." lots of murmuring at this point, screaming, giggles... and two minutes later, you have something that resembles a VERY large kernel of popcorn.

And it smells good too! Be careful - it gets hot.
posted by bradth27 at 5:32 AM on September 8, 2006

Do color mixing with dyed water. Start with red, yellow, and blue water in clear containers. Mix to make secondary and tertiary colors, arranged in a color wheel. If you have time, talk about complementary colors, or about how we see color or something.
posted by leapingsheep at 6:06 AM on September 8, 2006

You could make slime. We did this for a "take your daughter to work" day years ago and it was very popular because the kids got to take the slime home with them.
posted by cabingirl at 10:02 AM on September 8, 2006

Alton Brown's "doo-dads" recipe is a simple demonstration of sugar melting and hardening, and you end up with candy.
posted by frogan at 12:21 PM on September 8, 2006

Glad you liked the Surfing Scientist, SKSP -- do let us know how it goes. So many Ask threads suffer from lack of closure.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:12 PM on September 8, 2006

I'm not sure if the window of opportunity has passed, but consider doing something on icebergs- a big, irregular piece of ice in a clear tub of water-shows how much is below and above; talk about the differing density of liquid vs. solid water, etc.

There should be plenty of material for 3-5 minutes.

posted by HighTechUnderpants at 5:40 PM on September 11, 2006

Response by poster: Just a quick update, I went with the slime idea (even though I loved Ambrose's link). I didn't land the gig but I'm told it was close, which is somewhat comforting. Guess I've got plenty of time to try out other things.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:09 AM on September 19, 2006

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