What do you charge?
Our fees must also cover our travel expenses (gas + overnight), so we need to know locations before we can quote prices. But for instance:
2 shows back-to-back in Boston cost $1145; Spirngfield, MA $1095; most schools in CT $1145, but near Greenwich & Stamford $1195;
Westchester/Rockland Counties: $1225, All of NJ : $1295, Long Island $995/$1245 (add $50 if you're in the fish tail); Baltimore $850; schools in VT and NH should call for pricing (we have a soft spot for "small" schools)
Do you offer Discounts? Specials?
We understand that PTA/PTO monies are very dear and will do what we can to lower costs when we come to a town. Our biggest expenses are in traveling, and the most dangerous part of our job is the driving, so we give BIG financial incentives if you reduce our travel. Two schools booking consecutive dates in the same town each get $100 off; Three or more schools coordinating schedules each get $150 off.
We also offer an Early Bird Discount. Schools booking for the NEXT school year before March 31 of this school year get 10% off. It helps everybody to be organized early. We do expect a 50% deposit to hold a date more than 6 months in advance.
Why don't you charge more?
The mission statement of Slapstick Science is simply, "To teach everybody that science is fun and promote science to the next generation of scientists." We're educators, and we're sensitive about how few dollars are available to do the very important job of educating our next generation of scientists. To that end, we endeavor to offer the most cost-effective educational experience we can, allowing you to offer more diversity with your limited funds.
Do you need a deposit?
We do expect a 50% deposit to hold a date more than 6 months in advance. With very few exceptions, we expect payment in full on the day of the performances.
Do you have insurance?
We carry the industry standard for Liability Insurance, and we are glad to list your school as "also insured" for dates we visit. It's all done electronically now and is very little trouble.
Are you the same as Mad Science?
We are NOT the same as Mad Science, we are not associated with them in any way, and we fairly resent the confusion. Mad Science is a very successful international franchise organization that has done much to bring "hands-on" science into elementary schools, libraries, after-school programs, and even county fairs and birthday parties. We applaud them for that. Their assemblies, however, don't compare to Slapstick Science assemblies.
In about 1995 Mad Science contacted Ted Lawrence to see if he would write some assembly shows for them. He asked, "where will you be getting your performers?" They said, "from the classified ads" (and eventually Craig's List). Since Ted knew you couldn't find performers of the caliber required to present excellent school shows with such a strategy, he turned them down. His pocketbook has regretted it ever since, but sure enough - they never mounted any assemblies or performers who actually compete with the assembly programs and performers offered EXCLUSIVELY by Slapstick Science.
How far will you travel? Where do you perform?
We have different performers available for elementary schools and science centers in different geographic regions. Dr. Quark, who performs all of Slapstick Science's programs, is primarily booked throughout the Northeast- Maine to Philly to Syracuse- but has performed as far away as South Carolina, Singapore and Afghanistan. Dr. Quark is readily available for Multi-day bookings anywhere in the U.S. and internationally.
Dr. Albert Erg is available in the Baltimore/D.C. region (for a cheaper rate than Dr. Quark), and Dr. Hector Von Vector can be booked anytime on Long Island. Because Slapstick Scientists have to drive everywhere, we REQUIRE off-street parking, so bookings in NYC and other urban areas may be restricted.
Do you offer shows for Pre-K?
No. Our shows are too sophisticated and too long for Pre-K. Our shows work great for Kindergarden and up, but in general Pre-K is simply a different audience with different needs than the rest of the school. We discourage bringing groups of Pre-K into our shows; they usually become a distraction to the rest of the audience.
Do you offer shows for 7th? 8th? High school?
Only one of our shows was written with Middle School and older kids in mind: Combustion! the Fire Safety Show. However, a couple of our other shows have also proven to be popular with these audiences.
"Flight!" works very well because everybody wants to know how and airplane flies. Even Middle Schoolers will listen intently and participate when they really want to learn something!
"The Notion of Motion" is often brought into Middle Schools in New England as a review for the science standardized tests. The material is a review for middle schoolers, but it covers a lot of material the tests cover, so it's a quick and fun way (it only takes 75 minutes) for the whole class to cover the whole unit (which normally takes a week).
Do offer Family Shows?
Yes! All of our shows have proven to be popular with Family Nights and Science Fair Nights. To get the most bang for your buck, book the evening show the night BEFORE you book in-school shows! Big savings!
What do you have to offer for K - 2nd graders? What do you have to offer PK?
All of our shows EXCEPT "Combustion - the Fire Safety Show" are great shows for K-2. While we do the "same" show for both K - 2 and 3 - 6 everyday, there are significant changes in how we present the material to each of those audiences.
How long are your shows?
The running time for all our educational shows is 60 minutes for K-2 and 70 - 75 minutes for 3-6. While the programs are fun, our real reason for interrupting your students' class time is to actually teach them more than they could have learned had you just left them in class. All of our shows were written by starting with a lesson plan, stating clear educational objectives covering a UNIT (not just a chapter) from any usual text, and ending with the audience demonstrating mastery of the material. We do offer a less educational show - Cirque DO SCIENCE! - which is like every other organizations' science shows in that the educational outcomes aren't really the main objective, and that show can be cut to 45 minutes (or run to 60).
Don't you have a 45-minute program?
Alas, we do not have any truly educational 45-minute programs. If we did, we would easily double the number of schools we visit, but it would hardly increase the amount of truly educational experiences we bring in. Our science shows are written to cover a full unit. The concepts presented in each show - and there are many - are fully demostrated and explained and TAUGHT, and they all important in teaching the overall UNIT that's being presented. We won't show "electricity" in one demonstration and "sonic boom" or any other disparate concepts in the same show; they don't belong in the same science lecture. All our demonstrations relate to each other and reinforce the OVERALL lecture. The humor and comedy are on top of that, because it turns out that we learn better when we're laughing.
The 45-minute shows we have are circus related: Ted Lawrence's Mini-Circus is popular for civic events, county fairs, and fund raisers, but hardly merits having students miss valuable class time. "Cirque DO SCIENCE" explains the physics behind a number of circus skills, but since the finale doesn't really involve the whole audience synthesizing the solution to a problem using all the physics they've just learned (spectacular finales put together by the audiences - showing their mastery of the material just covered - is the hallmark of Slapstick Science assemblies), the running time of this show is flexible and can be cut to 45 minutes.
What's the worst thing that happens during your shows?
Two things come to mind that have happened in the last two decades. The first happens with more regularity now than it used to: the shows get interrupted by TEACHERS or adults chatting within the audience. This is extremely disruptive for the kids, and difficult to control from the stage (without stepping on toes). If you've got adults who tend to chat during assemblies, PLEASE direct them to have those conversations outside the auditorium. The second circumstance that comes to mind could be much worse, but so far the worst-case scenario has never been realized. It has happened when a kid ventures on stage without being asked and without the permission/knowledge of the performer. Once, this was due to a gym teacher actually directing a kid to walk onto the stage to get something for him (because he knew better than to go onstage himself). Once, this was done by a willful kid who was just too excited to stay in the audience, and once this was when a special needs student who was sitting on the lap of his paraeducator in the front row jumped out of her lap and ran into harm's way.
Please, if you have impetuous special needs students, don't sit them near the stage. And don't leave ANY kids to wander around the stage unsupervised. Science demonstrations are controlled and safe, but if somebody goes onstage and we don't know it, then a spot that we thought was empty suddenly is a hazard. Our specialty is BIG demos, and we need control of all space that is designated as "stage" for these demos to be safe.
Do you accept BOCES?
We have been approved by BOCES everywhere in NYS, but we not longer accept Questar, Nassau BOCES, nor Suffolk BOCES. We are very happy to accept BOCES contracts from everywhere else in NYS.
What is your "snow day" policy?
If you still have school, but it's a delayed opening or early dismissal, we still expect to do the programs if we're on site. We'll make our schedule completely flexible on such days -without any added fees for split shows - to accommodate your chaos! Snow days are hard on us, too, so we're pretty sympathetic. If weather looks pretty bad, we can chat the night before and discuss a rebook, and if school is outright cancelled we'll rebook the date at the nearest "mutual convenience."