Using magic to help teach science
May 22, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany - Two classes of Aukamm Elementary School first-graders unanimously turned their thumbs up for Brian Temple after he lit a piece of flash paper on fire and magically made it reappear as a $100 bill.
"Flashpaper's my favorite," Temple told the classes, and it quickly became a favorite of the students as well. One student wanted to know if Temple could perform the trick a few more times so he could get the money to buy an iPad.
Temple visited the school May 11 to give students in every grade a magic show in the music room and teach them about science in the process. It was science week, and in addition to Temple's show, students held their annual science fair, took science-related field trips and learned about science-related careers.
"Magic as I studied it is an art form similar to theater or painting or singing," Temple told the first-grade classes of Nicki Marsters and Annamarie McCormick-Howell. "It's a performance art, and we're going to go through some of the science elements."
In between magic tricks involving rope, coins, handkerchiefs and flash paper, Temple showed students videos that illustrated how people made the items. In order to make flash paper, for example, manufacturers must dip it in a series of liquid baths, including rocket fuel.
"This is flash paper," said Temple when he took out a sheet. "It's magical, but it has its groundings in science."
Diego Carrion, 6, said he especially liked the video that showed how traditional rope makers used sisal fibers and a contraption called a "rope walk" to make rope.
"I think he was pretty cool," Carrion said. "I liked the magic tricks and how he showed us how to make things like rope with tools."
Keiana Moore, 7, said it was weird, in a good way, when Temple turned an ordinary-sized penny into one about the size of a half dollar. "I liked that one the best," she said.
Their first-grade teacher, Marsters, said she thought Temple did a great job incorporating science and technology with magic. "He showed how science is used for magic," she said, "but he didn't give away his secrets."
Temple, who serves as the chief of public affairs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District, began training as a magician in 1989 and has been performing off and on ever since.
While attending the Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood, Calif., Temple studied the works of Dai Vernon, Jimmy Buffalo and other sleight-of-hand artists.