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The magic of science, the science of magic

There is a place for magic shows in science centres and museums.

In this session you'll have a chance to "bust" a series of (what many call) magic tricks. Yes, this is entertainment, but there is a lot of serious science and technology involved such as chemistry, physics, mechanics or biology. This workshop will include an element of collaboration and competition where participants are required to either explain or reproduce tricks or effects.

This is a novel topic at the Ecsite conference and will hopefully bring together others who are interested in challenging visitors or students with their props, concoctions, constructions or dexterity! We will be taking a "behind the stage" look at what works with a wide variety of audience sizes, ages and types. After three introductory presentations, speaker will get a chance to interact with each presenter at a separate table.This will be followed by a 20 minute collective discussion.


Raquel da Cunha, Ecsite
Communications and Events Manager

Session speakers

An interactive demonstration of simple examples concerning illusions, light, maths, mentalism and beyond. We'll try to investigate how the best magic tricks play on just the right balance between the expected and the surprising, between the answers and the questions. I am hoping for a lively discussion on what lessons from that, about misdirection, preparedness, improvisation and audience engagement, might be applied to planning a science show or an interactive exhibit.
Public Engagement
Senior Educator
Hands on examples of how cards, coins and other props can be used to entertain and enthral. Without science and/or technology, there is no magic. I will also show how "magic" creates a great chance to bring together older and younger audiences in collaboration with science centers and museums as well as outreach events. Could you be fooled by technology? Test yourself as well as learn tricks, performance techniques and how to produce "magic" from everyday objects. I am very happy to give continued advice should you wish to implement such activities in your Museum/Center.
At Ciência Viva Lagos Science Centre we have been implementing some activities where magic is used to motivate and engage the public. For young children or adults and seniors a simple mental calculation or a highly complicated equation seems to attract everyone to stay and learn about maths. We will share some of these "secrets" with you, and you may want to share some of yours with us.