Friday, January 28, 2011

Fun Science

What do you get when you combine a stage,simple machines, and common household items?  A laugh outloud, engaging science program that leaves the audience asking where the time went and begging for more!

That is exactly what we had today when we attended a performance/ production by Doktor Kaboom.  Doktor Kaboom is a dad who has taken his passion for science, children, and encouragement and turned it into a career.  He has taken the scientific method and made it less intimidating for children. He is from Germany and so while he is proficient with English it is not his first language and he enjoys sharing bits of German with his audiences.  We were instructed that for the show we not allowed to say yes in response to his questions, but Jah! or Nein!  To teach the kids this he had a fun interactive game and sure enough by the end of the program all the kids had remembered to say Jah!

One of the highlights of the performance was the explanation of a catapult and a highly entertaining demonstration of its use.  His "theory" is that it was not a weapon of war, but instead a means for the nobility to feed the peasants in an efficient manner. (He also explained the defense use of a catapult). Then using a student volunteer from the audience he demonstrated what the catapult can do while encouraging his volunteer to catch the bananas that he hurled around.  This was a challenge for the volunteer while providing laughs for the audience, so after every few attempts the "Dr" paused to make adjustments to his process.  Thereby demonstrating that often the point of an experiment is not to get the "right" answer, but to learn from the process of trial and error. 

He also demonstrated several other scientific principles in hilarious, attention grabbing ways.

Doktor Kaboom made sure to offer encouragement to the audience, but not in a sappy artificial way.  He strongly encouraged doing ones best in everything and believing that you can do it and are competent.  He encouraged the children to make eye contact and speak clearly about who they are and what they can do when asked  about themselves.

I was also impressed by his generous references to parents and their importance to the children.  Unfortunately too often the dominant message is parents aren't as important for a child as other non related adults.

Like most presentations or performances we could not take pictures of the stage or event, but if you would like to get a visual sense of our experience you can check out Doktor Kaboom's website.  One of the rotating scenes on his homepage is the 'banana catapult'.

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