I Have a Question for the Wizard!

by ryan

Last week, Exploratorium resident magician-in-chief Luigi visited our summer camp to perform his famous “Peanut, Butter, and Jelly”  and “Mongolian Pop Knot” tricks. Luckily Walter was on hand to videotape the entire trick as performed to a group of about forty 7-10 year olds. If you can’t afford Luigi’s hefty appearance fee for a personal magic show (I’m his agent so I get 10%), here is the first trick preformed in its entirely.

I think some people wonder why the explainers do magic demonstrations at the museum. While I think there are many great teaching opportunities about perception, attention, vision that the kids can take away from the table, Luigi demonstrates another benefit to the demonstration while doing this trick. You see, Luigi is not only a master magician but also a great teacher and I learn a lot as a fellow educator every time I see him do magic. Check out the second trick now!

You may notice in the video how the camera picks up all the comments that the kids make, saying “its up your sleeve” or ” I know that trick”. Well, also notice how Luigi keeps the group going along with him…thinking quickly to respond to some of the comments, keeping a good sense of humor, and working with the energy, not fighting against it. These techniques are so valuable to learn as a teacher trying to keep kids engaged in activities and personally I’ve learned a lot by doing magic tricks as well as watching other explainers do them.

In the comments to the video on youtube someone questioned the appropriateness of the way Luigi takd to the kids and I found his response very insightful. He said…“I firmly believe that children are smart persons, and I try really hard never to be condescending to them. They know what’s up. So I try not to be too “cute” with them, or over the top, and instead develop a real rapport with them. I am not a children’s entertainer, and so my persona for this is that of an adult doing magic for adults that just happen to be small in size and act quite silly… I intentionally let the kids get a bit out of control, I like it that way!” This is something that all of us explainers try to do with the field trip groups who come through the door everyday and can be a counterpoint to other teaching styles.

And finally the title of this post references how after the show, during a short Q. and A. session with the weege, one of the campers started off with, “I have a question for the wizard”, which was funny and true all at the same time.