Oberlin Blogs

Energy and Electricity

July 20, 2010

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

If you've been following along, you know that for Winter Term I went to Nicaragua and that I then interned at my local science museum. For this summer, I decided to go back there and actually work. I'm doing a combination of demonstrations and choreographing for one of the summer camps that they hold in musical theatre. That doesn't start until July, so right now I'm just doing the demonstrations.

Back in January, I was just pushed onstage without much instruction. Now, we're taking a slower approach to the whole thing. I've watched several shows, read the script for one, watched DVDs of two more, and worked very slowly into doing shows.

Then the summer camp started up, and I stopped doing shows in lieu of the polka. There's a break between the first summer camp of nine-to-eleven-year-olds and the second camp of twelve-to-fifteen-year-olds, though, so now I'm back doing shows.

I've gotten better at it. Back in January, I wasn't really sure what I was doing, and I didn't really have to talk. Now I do have to talk, and I'm better at pretending that I know what I'm doing.

Right now, my repertoire mainly consists of two shows: Energy and Electricity. I've really only had formal training on Energy, and I'm a lot better at that one. I could launch into a description of the whole spiel for your reading pleasure, but I'm not sure how exciting that would be. I'll tell you, though, that the show itself is quite exciting, mainly because two thirds of it are explosions.

Electricity is fairly exciting, too, because a lot of it involves the Tesla coil. I, however, have never attempted to use the Tesla coil myself. Instead, I stand by ready to grab fluorescent tubes when the volunteers from the audience look like they're about to drop them.

And I make bad jokes. It took me a while to learn the jokes, but now I've got several of them down. I haven't quite mastered the art of throwing in random jokes, mainly because I'm not good at coming up with things off the top of my head. The somewhat scripted jokes, though, I have down. Here's my favorite:

I walk a volunteer through wiring up a simple circuit, pointing out the filament inside the light bulb and the "sproingy things" on the battery. Then I confess that they're actually not called sproingy things, but they're called terminals. Except that that sounds so final. Sometimes the audience gets it. Usually, though, I just say, "Let's move on." And then we do.

My boss has said that we'll be adding a new show to the repertoire, so possibly that will show up later this week. I'll let you know.

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