Adapting to the New Normal

Adapting to the New Normal

Explorer Dome at a distance

The events of the past six months have impacted everyone, and every sector, in some way or another. We have all had to adapt our way of life, adjust our routines, and manage our expectations somewhat. New words and phrases have emerged from the morass, like WFH (working from home), “The New Normal”, and a seemingly tireless use of the word “unprecedented” …

Despite the changes to our schedules and our moods, there are some reasons to be cheerful! STEM outreach has been impacted heavily by the virus, but some science communicators still soldier on. Over the summer we have been visiting summer schools with our range of adapted shows. I say “visited”, but some of these shows have been delivered remotely, a first for Explorer Dome.

Remote Shows!

We were contacted early in lockdown by the charity Whizz-Kidz, a charity that helps children and young adults who are wheelchair users. They had originally scheduled a physical visit with our Dome, but at that time we were unable to travel, so we rescheduled an online session via the Zoom platform. I am pleased to say that as of writing, we have delivered two online sessions and have a further two in the pipeline.

The show has received very positive feedback, and it has been tremendously fun to do. We get to do things we don’t normally get a chance to do, like dressing up as astronauts (who doesn’t want to dress up like an astronaut, eh?) and showing off some of our awesome animated content

Remote Hertzsprung–Russell with schools

We also presented sessions to the general public live on Facebook and YouTube, which proved popular. When broadcasting live, our team of talented science communicators were behind the scenes answering viewers questions in the chat areas. These live presentations are available to watch again on our Facebook page and on our YouTube channel Whether we use Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or any other online platform, the shows themselves have proven to be at least as interactive as our shows within the Dome.

Chemistry and Dome Shows

In some ways, we were ahead of the game with our table-top based chemistry shows, as they are already “Covid Secure” by their nature. With added precautions, we have delivered several Bubble shows and Science Tricks shows to physically distanced audiences. We were concerned that by adhering to the latest government guidelines, we would have to sacrifice some of the magic, but the magic remains intact and the shows still have all the awe and wonder that they have always had.

Socially Distanced Chemistry shows

Our domes are still in action, and we believe them to be a safe and enjoyable space to enjoy lively, fun, and interactive science shows. Our domes (with tunnels) have excellent ventilation and throughput of fresh air. With some minor adjustments, such as maintaining a safe distance from us and by using enhanced hygiene measures, we are confident that class-sized bubbles can enjoy a show just as they always have done.

What Next?

We have secured funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry to further develop our chemistry shows for this new landscape and will be working with partnered schools and chemistry industry professionals to bring even more exciting and engaging science into schools across the country. Development is in the making (see below) We can't wait to bring it into schools to support interactive, hands-on, relevant and FUN STEM learning!

RSC Chemistry show development

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