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Science Magic

Discussion in 'Magic' started by Pinky the Clown, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. Pinky the Clown

    Pinky the Clown New Member

    Has anyone ever performed science experiments as a magic trick to educate children? This is something I have been thinking about since I work with kids in the inner city. Are there any good books out there on Science Magic? I have been thinking that performing science in a fun way could help give children a desire to learn. But then again, maybe some clowns have the opinion that clowns just entertain. But could clowns entertain and educate?
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  2. Humblestone

    Humblestone New Member

    Have you every heard of "Mad Science"? Birthday Parties

    I think they're nationwide, and they provide more science than magic, but it's done in a very entertaining way--even for birthday parties!

    I can picture a similar thing being done by a clown.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
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  3. Pinky the Clown

    Pinky the Clown New Member

    That is so what I am thinking about...got to think about how to put the clowning with it. Thanks for the link. I am looking for some books to learn how to do stuff like that.
  4. Simply Knute

    Simply Knute Well-Known Member

    look up "Doktor Kaboom" he's a mad scientist character, complete with spiky hair and german accent, that does school shows and such.. he doesn't do so much magic as really cool chemical experiments and stuff but it's really entertaining, and almost clownish at times..

    Doktor Kaboom!
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  5. Snoetje

    Snoetje Well-Known Member

    I love mad scientists.
  6. SCOOP

    SCOOP Ace Reporter

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  7. Flip

    Flip New Member

    Pinky, are you talking about doing this in schools, parties, etc? What kind of access do you have to chemical ingredients?
  8. Daisy the Dolly

    Daisy the Dolly New Member

    We do minor expedients with the kids at my work. We make exploding milk, and float or sink ( you could use funny props to get the point across). There are a lot of easy expiraments that kids love, its just about how to make it funny.
  9. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    My high school chemistry teacher did a Mad Scientist show on Halloween each year. He had the advantage of a stockroom full of chemicals along with bunsen burners and dry ice. I am sure there are good tricks that you can do with household supplies that don't get too messy.
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  10. Magic Etc

    Magic Etc New Member

    Before I retired from teaching science, I often used magic in my classroom to illustrate science principles. Magic is a great attention grabber. Optical illusions are easy and pack small, play big. One I used with good success was the old 2 hot dogs or rainbows. I had a big set and then I had the kids make their set to take home to fool their parents. There are two books I have had for many years on science magic tricks. One is Science Magic, 101 Experiments You Can Do by Ormond McGill. The other is Secrets of 123 Old-Time Science Tricks and Experiments by EDi Lanners. Both of them are still available on Amazon.com. Of the two, the McGill book is the best. It has great effects that can easily be done, many with house-hold things or simple chemicals that can be bought from a teacher supply store, a REAL pharmacy or drug store, or ordered on-line.
    Another possibility is doing environmental magic. You can do this in a small way or go "big-time" as an entire themed show. Good for doing schools or community events like Earth Day. Check out YouTube for JohnMaverickMagic Eco Show. Also Steve Petra "It's Alive!" puppet show about the working of the human body. Great comedy ideas! Steve Axtell has a new effect called the Green machine. A re-working of the old square circle with an environmental theme. See in use at http://www.Axtell.com.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
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  11. V

    V Well-Known Member

    I've used sulfur hexafluoride. Great for levitating items, "pouring" on fires, etc.

    If you use a clear tank that the audience can see and have the sulfur hexafluouride setting in it, you can just drop an item in and let it float. Boat props work well in a theme.

    Using an exaggerated prop that you can pour the sulfur hexafluouride on and have in trinkle down a ways to a waiting fire is also nifty for the eye.
  12. V

    V Well-Known Member

    I have nearly a year behind me of developing and performing a science based show and will offer my recommendations here.

    First, and I can't stress this enough... Drop the entire magic concept from the show. When I was first developing this show, I wanted to do something similar (science & magic, science vs. magic) and while it sounds great on paper, it doesn't present well (in my opinion) on stage.

    What I eventually did with the idea was go with science. You can present it entertainingly enough (check out Steve Spangler as an example) and there are so many science effects out there that are impressive enough without magic that you don't need to add a gimmick.

    You want it to be entertaining, but it has to be educational as well. This is an important selling point. Sometimes, you can get by without even having experiments that are over the top as long as you're funny and educational.

    If you have a science based background or hobby, incorporate it into the show. My soon to be 7 year old loves insects and as a result, my entire family has learned quite a bit about insects and have a modest collection of live insects (term used loosely to include arthropods, arachnids, etc) that make great teaching tools and as a benefit, we've cultivated a successful husbandry program that supplies classrooms, museums, universities, etc with a few specimens that we breed.

    Right now we have Dynastes granti (our first year with them but starting an environment to breed them - I think one of my females may be gravid right now actually - hopefully both of them), waiting on our Dynastes tityus to be ready to breed, and a healthy group of Passalidae (which unfortunately don't seem to breed in captivity), that have a relatively sophisticated "language" - being able to produce 14 distinct sounds. Beetles make great presentation specimens for an infinite number of reasons and are great pets. Once they expire, they can be preserved for further scientific uses as well.

    I also keep Neostylopyga rhombifolia - very visual specimen with 'pretty' markings. Common name is Harlequin Roach, and typically if anything in nature is designated 'harlequin' you can bank on it being visually beautiful. Lucihormetica subcincta, because well, who doesn't like bioluminescence? Gromphadorhina portentosa because they're so easy to handle safely - docile, slow, etc.

    Milipedes make great presentation specimens as well since they're harmless. Don't mistake them for centipedes, which generally aren't safe to handle...

    Spiders also. Most people can't get over their fear of them, but they make great study specimens. Numerous spiders in the US, only the widow and recluse are harmful to humans. Most won't bite unless you give them a reason to. Some orb weavers spin beautiful webs - I don't have any of these as 'pets' but try to encourage them in my gardens and plants.

    Scorpions aren't something you want to pass around to a group of people to hold, but they're great under a black light.

    Everything above are low maintenance to keep and in some instances are of great value to the insect/entomology world in general.

    I don't know that I would recommend buying tanks full of insects and such just for a show because they do require some time and commitment outside of work (and if the show doesn't get much in the way of bookings...), but they're an option especially if you want to get started into science and such yourself - the show value is just a bonus.

    I'd be happy yo publish my show outline and/or show script after the New Year if you're still interested in doing a show like this. I think there is value in it.

    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
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  13. Pinky the Clown

    Pinky the Clown New Member

    At the American Clown Academy, there was a clown who had about 6 different science shows all with special effects. He was able to get into many schools through his science shows and traveled full time to libraries and schools.
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  14. V

    V Well-Known Member

    So... China.

    Just a FYI - There's no recall or information on these but as a reference, I fed a cup of these to my breeding pair of my Hercules Beetles and it basically killed them instantly. This was after the fruit had been thoroughly washed from the alleged 100% juice. The date was fine with a best used by Dec, 2015 so expiration wasn't an issue and it was stored as recommended and never exposed to unfavorable temperatures. I don't have the box any more but some internet sources claim they're packaged in China and/or Thailand and like everything, you wonder about the screening and health concerns on these imports.

    The beetles had eaten fruit daily, including fresh fruit - organic and not - ranging from Walmart to Whole Foods as a supply. Insects are fickle and it's not uncommon to have one die for no apparent reason, but to have (2) male/female pair - die very quickly after eating from the same (and only) source is suspect. We'll not buy them again for human consumption or really for anything that's alive that we want to stay that way.

    I had though of using the single left-over cup of fruit as a test against some of my cockroach species. They're incredibly durable and had they shared the same fate as the beetles I don't know that I could have been convinced that the oranges weren't highly toxic. In the end, I didn't want to risk losing any stock to what I suspect to be either high levels of residual insecticide on the fruits, or very poor conditions at the packaging facility that allowed contaminants inside the cups. Either way, as said that was certainly my last purchase from the company.

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  15. V

    V Well-Known Member

    With that public safety announcement out of the way...

    Just wondering if anyone took up the reigns and crafted a science based show?
    I'm a fan of them and am working on expanding mine over the next few months (to have ready for 2015 School year and 2016 Library Shows). Adding some more flamboyant chemical reactions (mainly hydrogen or liquid nitrogen based) and more specimens of insects/arachnids/etc to display and educate on. Considering adding a mentalist routine to the act but not sure if it would flow. I really like Bobby Motta's 'Alive' and thinking of adding something similar with one of my production props and a small colony of large specimen cockroaches.

    Maybe some other entertaining science props - Van de Graaff generator, etc. Still weighing options really...
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  16. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    While I haven't created a show, I was inspired by this thread to go see a local science show. Then it closed. I'll report back if it's restaged for public consumption.
  17. Milky Manna

    Milky Manna New Member

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your breeding pair, V.

    The concept is quite interesting to me--a science show. I have three colonies of aquatic dwarf shrimp breeding right now and a number of plants, but the whole aquatic thing would make transport and set up all the more difficult.

    I used to breed different species of snail... that might have been a hit, but I won't be expanding my collection any time soon. But I do love the idea of teaching the kids something in addition to entertaining.
  18. V

    V Well-Known Member

    I'd thought about adding some sort of snail since my kid likes them. Limax maximus (Great Grey Slug, Leopard Slug) are prevalent here and we'll occasionally bring them into one of our terrariums for a few days at a time to observe and learn (even some TMI issues with these guys). I simply couldn't find a method of transportation and display that is safe for both, human and animal, to make it worth the effort. Also, the largest specimen (Queen crater snail)available in this part of the world is only a little over an inch (size does matter for display purposes) and aren't capable of being handled as most insect types; especially some of the larger beetle and cockroach specimens.
  19. V

    V Well-Known Member

    This is really where the market has been heading for a while now and I think in the near future an educational based show is going to win out in most public settings - especially schools and libraries.

    Similar to the television initiative that killed shows such as Bozo and other 'fun' shows because they didn't meet the educational requirements handed down, I think in marketable venues, having an educational entertainment show has merit.

    They aren't entirely different than what most people are doing now (those who perform on stage anyway) in that it has to be entertaining to succeed. It obviously helps to learn some science based tricks that are visual and entertaining, but most importantly - can be safely controlled; but really, the only thing that's changing between a good magic stage act and a good science stage act are the props and patter.

    Quick examples -

    I use liquid nitrogen to make a cloud. The effect is instant and incredibly visual - pretty amazing really and I never get tired of it. It takes liquid nitrogen and water and is basically self working. Unlike magic, where you need to practice the act over-and-over to make flawless moves, in a science based show, you simply need to learn the skill, educated yourself on it, and be able to educate others on it as well.

    There is a perceived element of danger when you begin using chemicals, and it's true in a worst case scenario. For those who use caution and intellect, the effects are safe (because we wouldn't be doing them for an audience if they weren't, right kids?). There are obviously, some effects that can be performed that are quite dangerous (fire, hydrogen, etc) but that can also be displayed safely.

    The addition of living organisms is a plus (wow, bet most here wouldn't expect that from me, huh?) in that having specimens to display and educate on is basically easy mode. You can have half a dozen species to display - maybe let the audience touch/hold them (under supervision), and dish out some education on and this will easily fill half an hour. Some of the specimens come with a self-packaged illusion (scorpions under a blacklight, or bioluminescent plants/animals for example).

    If I ever find time, I'll supply a sample of what I do. Realistically, I wouldn't hold your breath sine it will likely be summer 2015 before I even think of taking the time to take the time to record/edit and make it available - life gets busy with work, wife, kids... ;)
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  20. Milky Manna

    Milky Manna New Member

    Well, I had Applesnail tanks back in the day. P. canaliculata can get larger than a baseball and all applesnails have both a lung and a gill and do well with being handled as long as they don't get too dry. Super impressive and the kids like to feed them etc. The canaliculata are illegal in a bunch of states now.

    When I lived in Florida, I also had some of the native Applesnail P. paludosa I believe. The coolest thing about them were their eggs, very large. I used to go kayaking and collected some eggs and that's how I started my paludosa tank.

    An easy one to find is the P. Diffusa. They only get about pingpong sized as adults but there are a lot of rad color morphs like pink, purple, "blue". Adult females may eventually approach golfball size.

    You wouldn't have to transport a whole tank with you. They do all right wrapped in moist paper or moss and then would be okay for a show in one of those cheap plastic tanks with a small amount of fresh water.

    You would have to have the tank set up at home of course.

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