Flames shoot through the air. Water changes colors to create a rainbow. Eggs obey instructions scribbled on their shells. And shards of broken glass reform together to create a perfect beaker.
These wonders and more await viewers of Lorain County Community College Chemistry Professor Regan Silvestri’s one-man show “Magical Science!” But – spoiler alert – there is no magic involved. It’s all science.
Soon every student in Elyria City Schools will experience the wonder of the “Magical Science!” live performance as Silvestri has secured grant funding from the LCCC Foundation and the American Chemical Society to bring his science show to every classroom and school in the district.
“I take a traditional magic show and turn it on its head,” Silvestri explained. “A traditional magician wants to trick you into believing that it really is real magic, but for me, a smile from the audience says ‘I think I know how he did that.’”
Silvestri has been wowing school children with the science magic show since 2009. His shows have reached nearly 20,000 students in more than 150 locations throughout Northeast Ohio. The partnership with Elyria City Schools is his first official partnership to systematically bring the show to an entire school district.
“Magical Science!” was recently performed for freshmen in Lorain County Early College High School, a four-year high school experience on the campus of LCCC offered in partnership with Elyria City Schools. During the show, typical teenage chatter quickly turned to amazed gasps as Silvestri performed science trick after trick.
During the show, Samya Algood, 14, was picked from the audience to assist with a demonstration that involved smashing a glass beaker with a hammer. The broken pieces of glass were placed in a “magical solution” that returned them to their previous shape and strength.
“When I was up there, I thought, ‘There is now way that glass is going to come out,’ but then it did,” Samya explained. “I was so shocked!”
After watching the show, Samya said she was more interested in her science class at school. Piquing students’ interest in science is the whole point, Silvestri said.
“I don’t disclose to students outright how the magic tricks work. I lead them far enough down a path that starts them to think about how I did that, to the point where they start to figure out the science behind it all by themselves. They discover the science themselves.”
For Skylar Scott, 14, “Magical Science!” brought her textbook to life.
“We learned a lot in class about some of these things. It was really cool to see it in person,” Skylar said.
Silvestri has been gaining attention for his efforts to spread the magic of science. He recently received the 2017 Recognition Award from the Microscopy Society of Northeast Ohio. He has also been invited to deliver the science magic show as the featured keynote presentation at the Cleveland Regional Council of Science Teachers Annual Fall Conference at John Carroll University in November.
View Elyria Schools Pioneer TV video on the Magical Science show: