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Potty the Pirate
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If you're looking for Science Songs, just type "Science Songs" into Google - there are stacks of 'em! (One of my favourites is "It's a Scientific Fact", because it actually admits that scientists know NOTHING for sure, but can give the best possible explanation available today. I wish more layfolk, and politicians, would wake up to this rather important truth about science: "scientific fact" is not "Gospel truth".)
I think part of the problem with a science show, is how to make it engaging and FUNNY all the way through. Not to mention, that your demonstrations need to be simple, direct, and educational. For instance, the local science franchise around here, has the demonstrator "perform" needle thru balloon. Then comes the "science" bit - the kids are told that the molecules at the neck and tip of the balloon are more densely packed together, so that allows the needle to pass through. Hardly real science, actually just a way to get something "magical" into the show, without really considering the educational aspect at all!
I think a good science show should talk about everyday science, like electricity and batteries, inertia, gravity, and other basic physical principles, simple chemistry (all kinds of fun experiments here), some biology, and even astronomy and nuclear physics, which can be fascinating to a five-year old (they were to me at that age).
It's all about how you present the information of course. If you were to include a puppet routine in your science show, how would it work? What simple science demonstrations could be done with a puppet on one arm?
Doug
Troy_Roark
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Hey Louis:

Do yourself and everyone else a favor and keep the personal attacks out of the Café. Have we met? I don't think so. So what's with the jab? I enjoy the Café for meaningful conversation, not to see myself talked about by someone I'm certain doesn't know me.

Just think twice before posting.
TonyB2009
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Quote:
On 2009-06-15 21:20, thescienceworks wrote:
Hey...Can we start a forum for Science Magic? It seems like there are quite a few of us out here performing these shows, and I bet we all would have advice for each other on this score.
-Steve

I'm with you on that, Steve. I think it would be a very valuable resource. Personally I love doing my science shows, though I don't push that side enough. I like the look of your website - you have something good there.
magicgeorge
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Well, here's the place to ask, gents:

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewf......=40&5316
Powermagic
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I have never seen a good presentation from any show I have seen by Mad Science.
I think mostly since this is a job to some people who really do not have a performance background.
The learn a script and copy it to the letter.
They have some success since the SFX carries itself.

So the real problem is that they are not nationally trained and do not have to pass any type of presentation test.
thescienceworks
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I like that idea, Doug...using a Puppet in a Science Show. I am not a good enough vent to pull it off, but I have a folkmanis puppet of a scientist/explorer type person that I haven't found a place for yet. I have been thinking he could come in to explain the tricks, or could be a big part of a science show for younger children. Mostly I reserve the Science-Magic or Water Wizardry shows for Kindergarten and up, since I find that younger than that the children don't always care why the trick/experiment works, they just want to see the next one.

I also agree that the simpler topics are the best ones...concepts that the audience has some experience with, can get their mind around, and can make their own. I use the Lota Bowl as a running gag in my Magic Show, and that concept has worked so well for me that I use it in my Science-Shows as well, with different running gags that are science-based. I conclude the show with letting them guess how those work, which they usually do 99% of the time (with prompting and clues from me).

I have been thinking of an Optical Illusion Show, and also of a Space Show, pulling some ideas out of my first two shows and scrambling the lineups, but don't have running gags for those yet. I think I WILL try to get a forum going for this...

-Steve
paulmccrory
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Interesting thread.

There's a Science of Magic thread on the Café that might be a good place for people who do educational science magic shows to get together:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewf......=237&445

There is also a mailing list run by the British Interactive Group (BIG chat) that discusses all things related to science demonstrations:
http://big.uk.com/chat/index.htm

On the bigger issue of the standard of shows by informal science educators (not Mad Science specifically but the wider community of full-time presenters in science centres and outreach organisations) I have to admit it is very variable. When interviewing new presenters I try to keep in a mind a balance between the three qualities that Steve mentioned - scientist; teacher; and performer. It is rare to find people who excel in all three.

In informal education there's often an unspoken "educationally worthy get-out clause" that we give into - because we're doing something that is fundamentally a good thing, the audience usually doesn't expect us to be very entertaining or to be professional in our performance. In my opinion this get-out is very damaging for the aspirations of informal educators, and we too often content ourselves with mediocrity.

Doing good education is hard. Doing good entertainment is hard.
Being able to find the educational elements for a particular topic that are
also entertaining (that is, emotionally engaging) is very hard.

I'm just in the final stages of writing up some educational research into how science teachers and informal educators in the UK use entertainment in their performances, and the findings strongly suggest it is possible to find these emotionally engaging and educational elements for most topics.

All the best

Paul
magicone
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I just performed for a group of 7 year olds and they were talking about how they learned about the TT, coin slide and a few other tricks from the "Mad Science" show at school.

I looked on their website and didn't see anything about the teaching of magic tricks. Do they do this now or offer it previously? or is this some other show that's doing it.

I also took my children to see the Ringling Bros. Zing Zang Zoom this year and they gave a TT out with each program purchased.......


I hate to see a great utility given away albeit the children still don't know when I'm using it, it still gets my dander up. Smile
themagiciansapprentice
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Magicone,

I think that's a good point. If they don't know how to use a TT without flashing it then you still perform magic!! Many children are given magic kits that include TTs but few realise what you're doing when you entertain them. Especially with dye tubes, palmos and hank balls at our disposal.
Have wand will travel! Performing children's magic in the UK for Winter 2014 and Spring 2015.
themagiciansapprentice
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Paulmccrory

I'd like to hear more about your research. Few schools in the UK have resources to pay for guest speakers nowadays, outside the National Science Week programme. Often it's just an animal man who comes in. Or occasionally a local enthusiast who gives the children a talk in return for selling them things (eg egyptologists selling reproduction beetles, sphinxs).
Have wand will travel! Performing children's magic in the UK for Winter 2014 and Spring 2015.
paulmccrory
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Whilst budgets have certainly tightened recently the science outreach market is still very healthy in the UK at the moment. Before I stopped last year to complete my research, we were reaching over 30,000 pupils across Northern Ireland every year. If want to see just some of the people making a full-time living from school visits you can check out:
http://www.stemdirectories.org.uk or http://www.sciencelive.net

Of course, it's vital that your shows support and enrich the curriculum. The generic Mad Science publicity material that I have seen in my area screams "birthday party entertainment" rather than education. Which is unfortunate as I know there are Mad Science presenters out there who do good entertaining and educational shows. It all seems to depend on the experience and values of the person running the local franchise.

Thanks magiciansapprentice for your interest in my research. Basically I'm looking at how science teachers and informal educators foster positive emotional responses through their performance eg curiosity, uncertainty, anticipation, surprise, amusement, amazement, joy of understanding, imagination, sense of wonder, etc. Many of the emotional engagement techniques they use are borrowed from the world of professional interactive performers, such as magicians eg disclosing their character, modelling emotions for pupils to copy, using volunteers, building suspense, "teacher in trouble", story-telling, etc.

All the best

Paul
Powermagic
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I recall over a decade ago being disappointed when watching a PBS science show. It was a good show on stage with great reactions.
HOWEVER I could not understand the need to expose magic principles.

I worked with a full time chemistry professor who got into magic later in life.
We would work out routines but I found out he was giving the non science secrets away. Lets face it, magicians can NOT be upset by these shows exposing super absorbent polymers. (slush powder) But to expose how the milk changed into a silk is just wrong.
What I learned from my friend was that he started as a teacher. He said if the kids ASK he feels obligated to TELL. Teachers are not designed to be secret keepers (neither are many magicians but that is another topic)

Since the science is used as the core effect, it just felt natural to him to explain how the entire process worked. I had some knock down, dragged out arguments with him over not exposing the gimmicks.

If you ever had a discussion with Engineers and magic effects, many seem to resent magicians keeping the method a secret. they think we are doing it for arrogant reasons. Many will claim the get more fun out of knowing how it works rather than the illusion. I think Scientists are the same way. They can appreciate the gimmick and the methods MORE than illusion.

With Mad Science employees, they might not know better. Many are NOT magicians OR teachers in the licensed sense. It is a job. They follow the manual and do what they are told.

I guess it is hard for us to remember how we were before we branded ourselves as "magicians" If we got a trick, we most likely shared the secret with someone. Heck, magic clubs are STILL doing that. Secrets are NOT sacred anymore even though magicians in clubs like to think the exposure is only "among friends and trusted folk".
So many "employees" really do not know about secret keeping. they probably see a magic gimmick as just another tool. It helps fill the time to give it away.

That show I mentioned did expose milk to silk with all gimmicks. A liquid genii tube, again showing the powder. I never understood why they had to show how the phanto tube worked. They also exposed the hot wallet.
They did a great job using it as a tool to explain what three things you need to make fire. But since one of those elements is a fuel source, they showed how the wallet worked. they needed to show how the fuel source worked as well as the ignition system since it was all about how fire is created.
I think they also exposed the anti gravity glass with water and gimmick.

I have seen plenty of magician science shows explain the first part and then keep them thinking on the second part. I will admit many magic shows of this variety do seem to be stuck on being the star and have to put a twist on every explanation but at least they try to not expose magic gimmickry.

It is funny how all the exposure shows on TV or science demos in class first need the element of surprise. they can teach and entertain so much better BEFORE they give it away. This proves the illusionist's value. They would have a tough time if they did not put "the show on" first.


Quote:
On 2009-06-20 18:46, magicone wrote:
I just performed for a group of 7 year olds and they were talking about how they learned about the TT, coin slide and a few other tricks from the "Mad Science" show at school.

I looked on their website and didn't see anything about the teaching of magic tricks. Do they do this now or offer it previously? or is this some other show that's doing it.

I also took my children to see the Ringling Bros. Zing Zang Zoom this year and they gave a TT out with each program purchased.......


I hate to see a great utility given away albeit the children still don't know when I'm using it, it still gets my dander up. Smile
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