Have you ever been to a magic show and wondered if you could perform amazing tricks, too? Many of the most magical-looking effects are possible because of some quite basic principles of science.

This unit gives students the chance to investigate the science of magic … or, perhaps, the magic of science!

LIST OF ACTIVITIES

Deep Purple Magic
More Deep Purple Magic
The Disappearing Glass
Coin Through Latex
Mobius Bands
Crayon Mind Reading
All Tied Up In Knots
Rope Handcuffs
Tied and Tangled
Magician’s Rock, Paper, Scissors!
Super Magic Tube

Objectives

  • Explain the chemistry behind a simple acid-base reaction.

  • Describe how the refraction of light index can explain why something becomes invisible.

  • Explain the importance of observation when doing science.

Materials

  • See individual activities for materials.

Background

Magic is something that seems otherworldly or mysterious. Magicians entertain us by creating the illusion that they have strange and mysterious powers.

In the world around us, we can get by without having a good understanding of how everything works. For many of the complicated gadgets that we use, the science is hidden inside the “black box”. So it may seem to work “like magic”. Science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke claimed that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. If we understand why things happen based on our observations or previous knowledge, things don’t seem as magical anymore.

How-To Tip:
Figuring out the science behind the magic can get kids thinking critically, but don’t take out all of the fun by explaining every trick. Keep some secrets to yourself!

To successfully engage your audience/students, think of it as a 3-step process:
1. It is very important to “shtick” the trick. That means presenting the trick in such a way that students have the opportunity to be impressed by it (remember to practice!).
2. Give students the opportunity to try to figure it out.
3. Step in and connect their discussion and ideas with the solution.

Be sure to allocate enough time for this 3-step process during each session.