I just returned from a quick trip to Santa Barbara, California where I had the chance to speak, teach science, and ride BMX for large group of library goers. My audience was elementary school students, teenage fans, and several adults from the neighborhood. My show area was the parking lot of Eastside Library. My mission was to grab the attention of 200 preteen students and teach them about Newton’s Laws of Motion.
Easy enough, right? Action, science, BMX stunts…no problem!
Normally our Healthy Habits Tour is two performers riding and speaking on subjects that remind or educate audiences about character building, teamwork, anti-bullying, or bicycle safety. We perform an assembly style show with awesome stunts on our bikes, skateboards, or scooters to grab the audience’s attention; Stunts to Master!
Well this trip was a bit of challenge. I was going solo; a one man BMX stunt show to discuss concepts in physical science. I didn’t just add the title of scientist to my credentials, strap on a headset, and tighten my helmet to regurgitate 6th grade science.
The StuntMasters physical science assembly and program was developed with Arizona State University’s Science is Fun director a few years back at the request of an elementary school science teacher in Tempe, Arizona. What started as a fun project turned into a fun new show; the BMX Physical Science Assembly or BMX in Motion Show.
I often give motivational speaking assemblies at schools and youth events. Telling relevant stories from lessons learned while riding my bike has always been a great way to share and educate. I also like to keep the show fast paced with lots of awesome bicycle freestyle stunts. Now we add a lesson plan, physical science concepts, and a quiz while keeping the safety aspect in ratio.
I needed last minute help — a hero to save the day! The unsuspecting hero turned out to be my father in law. He’s no action sports pro or adrenaline junkie but he had never been to CA and was always eager to be a team player. Teamwork!
It’s 8 hours of driving plus pit stops to Santa Barbara from Phoenix. We arrived the evening before showtime. It was dark and the ocean view I promised my father in law was nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t upset but I had envisioned the long haul to end with fish and chips by the beach at sunset. I promised things would get brighter in the morning or at least sunnier.
And they did because the weather in Santa Barbara was perfect for our morning show at Eastside Library, the hotel’s coffee was better than passable, the library was a quick 5 minute ride without freeways, and the parking lot was blocked off and ready for us to set up.
The staff at Eastside was well prepared and helpful. I could tell everyone was excited and maybe a bit unsure what to expect as we pulled up in the stuntmobile (Ford cargo van with ramps, PA, and bikes onboard). We put their minds to rest by quickly transforming an empty parking lot into a show venue with ramps, sound, generator, and action.
I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of the show. It is action packed education and entertainment; edutainment they say. I’ll just say we had a great time. The entire audience was behind me and my helper even as he struggled to play test dummy for my jump over skits / science experiments. The entire show is 45 minute of action and discussion. I keep the ratio pretty equal even while yelling “showtime” in the middle of 360 jump over the box. A few hi-fives and we’re back to talking potential energy and force.
A good indication of a successful show is how long the audience hangs out afterwards for questions, answers, or an autograph. The post session lasted as long as the show and my father in law even gave out two autographs. I think that means we did a good job making friends and bonding communities with bikes.
On to Beaumont, California for the next stop on our Healthy Habits Tour…. Thanks Santa Barbara.