Friday evening, I set out to find the location where I would soon present my very first Mad Science birthday party. When I arrived at an elementary school instead of someone’s home, I was a little confused. After contacting the woman who booked the arrangements, I realized I was throwing a Halloween party for the Girl Scouts.
“Hmm, ok, this should be fun!” I thought.
Mad Scientists transport a lot of equipment and the supplies can be a lot to carry in and out of the places we present at. (Photographed above is only what was in my trunk. The back seats were loaded with bins too…) Loading and unloading the car is half the battle.
The Girl Scouts had requested Birthday Party Kit A with the Halloween upgrade. In other words, a polymer party with dry ice. My first-ever group had about 40 girls in total. They were amazingly well behaved and extremely good listeners. Their little eyes stared in amazement as green colored bubbles of carbon dioxide bubbled out of my dry ice filled Jack-o-Lantern. They laughed when “Eggbert” got sucked into his Erlenmeyer Flask and they would scream as I made the evil witch melt from squirting acetone all over her (which I must admit is scary looking even to me as an adult…).
Today, I drove to an actual home to do another Halloween-themed party: same kit, Halloween upgrade, and all. For some reason, I don’t think today’s party went as well as the one I did yesterday. Actually, significantly more things went wrong. Maybe because it was outside? Not entirely sure what the reason was.
Right off the bat, things seemed to be off to a rough start. I tried to begin with the Eggbert experiment where you crack the shell off an egg, pop it into your mouth, light a sheet of paper on fire and drop it into the flask, and then quickly place Eggbert on top of it so the low pressure inside the flask sucks Eggbert in. Except, I threw Eggbert into my mouth and quickly discovered my lighter was all out of fluid. So egg in mouth, I had to signal to the parents that I needed to borrow a lighter. Awesome.
For whatever reason, this group was a lot harder to manage. Halloween music was playing in the background, there were kids of all ages in the audience, boys and girls, and a lot of them would randomly get up and run around the backyard. Towards the end, I accidentally spilled water on one boy because when I was trying to pour smoke from my dry ice bucket over the boy’s head, I titled the bucket just a bit too far and he got a little wet. Horrified. Thank goodness no dry ice came out. Oh and let’s not mention the girl who got polyvinyl alcohol on her dress…
After anything goes wrong, it is incredibly awkward for a few moments but I just take a deep breath, pause, make sure the kid is alright, apologize, and then try to proceed as gracefully as possible. Which isn’t always easy since everything about this job entails doing experiments that are crazy, messy, and at times, even dangerous. At least with every party I complete, I’m getting better and better.