Science is Magic.
Few GeekDad readers would disagree with this statement, despite it being something of an oxymoron. Steve Mould’s book looks at how science has informed feats of wonder through the ages, explaining how simple science can produce some unexpected results with which to bamboozle your audience. Aimed at children aged from around 7 upwards, Science is Magic from DK books, describes some simple tricks your kids can learn to astound their friends. It also explains some fundamental scientific concepts along the way.
What is Science is Magic?
Last year I reviewed Steve Mould’s excellent Bacteria Book. Whilst Science is Magic can’t really be considered a follow-up, being entirely different in content, the two books have many similarities. Science is Magic is a slim hardback of 96 pages. It contains over 40 experiments/magic tricks, with each one taking up a double page spread.
Science is Magic contains three types of entry.
Most of the book’s entries are “Science Tricks.” These boil down to science experiments with a showman’s flair. Here your children can learn to demonstrate the unusual properties of the Möbius Strip or balance a soda can on its rim. They can astound their friends by making their drywipe marker drawing float away or pose a color changing conundrum with a home-made cabbage potion.
Each experiment provides clear instructions with full-color photo explanations. There is also a description of the science behind the trick. Some elements of the experiments will need adult supervision, so it’s definitely worth discussing with your kids which experiments they want to try before letting them loose with the book.
How do they do it?
The “How do they do it?” entries take a famous magic trick and explain the science that underpins it. Houdini’s Water Escape, bottles that magically pour different colors of water, and David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear are all explained here. You can also learn the secret of the Bed of Nails trick; a wonder that fascinated me as a child.
Nature can be magical too. The “Science Wonders” section contains explanations of natural phenomena that on the face of it appear to be magic. Pufferfish circles, fireflies, and color changing camouflage are explained in this section. The book even explains something called “The Mould Effect” named for the author of this book. Whilst some of the science and effects in the book are ages old, some of its explanations are for science that is bang up to date.
The tricks outlined in the book don’t all have physical explanations (though most of them do). Some of the tricks involve suggestion and misdirection, highlighting some of the softer science and stagecraft that underpins many magic tricks.
The book is completed by a short glossary and comprehensive index.
Why Read Science is Magic?
Kids love magic and, as this book demonstrates, magic is just the manipulation of everyday forces. What better way to teach basic science than by invoking the magic of magic? It’s a great way to inspire kids to think about the world around them and help them understand simple concepts like surface tension and friction. It even explains how magic-eye pictures work. (Though it doesn’t tell you you’ll probably need to invent time-travel and go back to the 90s, if you want to see them with any regularity.)
The experiments are engaging and laid out in an easy to follow format, so that, with a little help from an adult, any child can access them. Science is Magic is a great little book perfect for bringing science out of the lab, away from the textbook, and into the home.
If you enjoyed this review, do check out my other Word Wednesday reviews. Steve Mould’s Bacteria Book may be of interest or perhaps DK’s How to be Good at Science, Technology and Engineering.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.