I recently went and did some science demonstrations to several grade 3 classes at the local primary school [elementary school in the USA]. I mostly did it because a friend from church, who is a teacher at the school, asked my wife if we could do it. The students were studying a unit on heat transfer.
Here are a few random observations from the experience.
The kids think scientists are like rock stars! You are so cool!
I was asked to wear the white coat and wild hair and so obliged.
The teachers really appreciate it. I was told I could not do just one or two classes because it would not be fair for some of the teachers and students to miss out! I had to do all!
These kids have had an incredible "diet" of computer games and special effects in movies. But, seeing something simple LIVE such as the baking soda rocket or coke can crush really wows them. They are not at all jaded, unlike the kids in this scene from Big Bang Theory!
The kids love it if they can help. Even, just measuring a temperature from a thermometer.
I really want to avoid the "magic show" dimension and try and communicate something about what science is really about, e.g. taking measurements, keeping records, making comparisons, developing concepts.
I also had a go at the "3 states of matter: gas, liquid, solid" myth by asking them about liquid crystals.
It was impressive how some got the point.
I feel we should all make more of an effort to do this sort of thing.
But, I really only felt could do it because my dear wife took care of all the logistics including all the materials for the demonstrations. My main time investment was showing up on the day. Hence, I am mindful that for many of us it may be unrealistic.
Here are some of the demonstrations
Baking soda rocket using a film canister
Tea bag rocket
Coke can crush