Illusioneering, by Peter McOwan and Matt Parker

At first glance, science and magic seem like chalk and cheese, but as the writer Arthur C Clarke pointed out, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The feeling of wonder that keeps scientists hooked to their research can also captivate a magician’s audience. Illusioneering, an online resource created to teach science, technology and engineering using magic tricks, aims to use this same emotion to keep students interested in science.

On the Illusioneering website you will find ten magic tricks with detailed explanations of the science behind them in PDF guides and Youtube videos. The tricks are all easy to perform and cover diverse science topics suitable for students over 8 years old. More importantly, the tricks are amazing. Making a coin disappear inside a glass of water can help to explain the optical distortion of light in liquids, while inflating an unburstable balloon can lead the class to a multidisciplinary discussion of air pressure dynamics, topology and sight.

The website’s authors, Peter McOwan and Matt Parker, are magicians and experienced scientists at Queen Mary University of London, UK. They have been exploring their shared interest in science education with magic for some years now and have published two books together on the subject: The Manual of Mathematical Magic and The Magic of Computer Science. Both resources are downloadable free on their personal websites.

Over the centuries, magicians have been inspired by the latest scientific discoveries to develop new tricks, and in the process learned basic science. Illusioneering can help you to reproduce that learning process in a classroom setting, offering students the opportunity to experience the full wonder of science.