Explosions, Inc.

Have science, will travel

Home to the finest science shows this side of the Big Bang performed by the two best science guys in this (or any other) universe. Have science, will travel.

The Method To Our Madness: Building a Better Show

We've received some questions about the structure and content of our shows and, rather than insist the questioner watch our video in a vain attempt to pad our YouTube viewership, I figured I would take this opportunity to discuss the thought that goes into deciding what blows up and when and, most importantly, why.

Explosions Inc. is edutainment. That's educational entertainment. Actually, I like to think of it as entertainment that tricks you into learning while distracted by cool stuff. We think a main difference between formal education (school) and informal education (everything else) is that there is no imperative to seek out what we have to offer so it's our duty to make it appealing and engaging. That idea is at the base of everything we do.

Let's take our chemistry show as an example. Chemistry is a huge field of study and the last memory most adults have of it is the slog of balancing chemical equations in high school or college. For a large number of people, those aren't the happiest of memories. We would rather bring back older memories of mixing stuff together and the thrill of discovery as compounds are formed, goo is created, and mysterious stains are inadequately explained to our parents.

So we start simple with an idea we can all relate to. Chemistry is like LEGO. We have a set of 118 identified bricks (elements) and from different combinations of these "bricks", all matter in the universe is formed. That becomes especially mind-blowing when you consider LEGO makes almost 7,000 different types of bricks and it can still be a challenge to build a completely round object with them.

Boom. Main idea done.

Now, if you are a young person who hasn't yet experienced the study of chemistry or perhaps you are an adult who has repressed all memories of high school science, our next goal is to identify some main ideas that can fit seamlessly into the manic dance of our performance and hopefully hitch a ride in your brain when you leave. We are proud of the sheer amount of content we work into a show, and we strive to make sure that all of our shows are more than just a handful of bangs and booms with some vague handwaving about science in between. For the purposes of our chemistry show we chose to explain the difference between chemical and physical reactions, the three necessary ingredients to create the chemical reaction known as combustion, and the five most common signs that a chemical reaction is occurring.

Next comes the fun part: picking out six to eight demos that illustrate the main ideas, can be formed into a cohesive narrative, and most importantly, are TOTALLY AWESOME. Oh, and safe. They have to be safe.....relatively.

I won't spoil the surprise and lay out every demo that we do. Some of them are included in the video on our performance page. Suffice to say they are our favorites, every one. As a performer I will only include a demo if I am sure that it not only meets the above specifications but also that demo must tickle my fancy every single time I do it. If it doesn't excite and engage me, I can't expect it to do the same for anyone else.

That, my friends, is our show layout in a nutshell. Are we married to only these shows and demos? Heck, no! We are always looking for new and better ways to share our excitement for science and we welcome suggestions and special requests. We'll bring the passion and expertise, you bring the curiosity, and we'll have ourselves a science party.

Copyright 2017 by Aaron Berenbach and Don Riefler

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