Mixing magic and science

James’ Travelling Magic Show visited the Whyalla Public Library last week. Pictured were Isla Pettman-McLiesh, Kyan Pettman-McLiesh, James Young, Tyler Smith and Keira Smith.
James’ Travelling Magic Show visited the Whyalla Public Library last week. Pictured were Isla Pettman-McLiesh, Kyan Pettman-McLiesh, James Young, Tyler Smith and Keira Smith.

Children were treated to a magical learning experience when James’ Travelling Magic Show visited the Whyalla Public Library last week.

Magician James Young stimulated children’s interest in the everyday magic of science through his unique show.

“It’s a real mixture of science and magic,” he said.

“For example today, filling a glass of water up, putting a piece of paper underneath and taking my hand away is science but then taking the paper away and keeping the water in the glass is magic.”

A primary school teacher for 29 years, Mr Young used magic to stimulate children’s interest in the world around them.

“I wanted to hook kids into the lessons so I started doing magic connected to science,” he said.

 “Kids would come to me and ask how the trick was being done and I would not explain how it was being done so that started that thinking process.

“That actually started the kids questions things around them in the world.”

Retiring from teaching one year ago, Mr Young has continued to inspire children through a travelling magic show and wants to inspire children to be critical thinkers.

“Not necessarily learn magic, but to question things around them, it’s to challenge the children’s thinking,” he said.

Mr Young’s fascination with magic began at a young age, but after a long hiatus he rediscovered the passion when he was cleaning out his parent’s shed following the death of his father.

“My mother asked me to clean the shed up and when I was going through it I found a tin box and when I opened it, it had all of my magic equipment,” he said.

“At that time, I was struggling to hold kid’s attention in the classroom so when I found that, I thought ‘here we go’ and I started to mix magic into my classroom.”

Mr Young’s teaching career saw him work with students around the state including Iron Knob, Port Augusta and the Riverland, where he is now based.

Mr Young also incorporates educational and environmental messages into his shows for children and parents as well as throwing in weird and amazing facts.

“A lot of parents don’t realise that when they buy their coffee and have their disposable cup, 21 million cups end up in landfill every week,” he said.

“I throw some other stuff in like elephants only having two legs and grasshoppers having ears on their knees.”

He said his innovative approach to teaching successfully engaged students but with generational changes becoming more frequent due to technological influences, there was pressure on teachers to continually revise their methods.

“Once upon a time we used to say there was a generational change every ten years, now it’s less than five years,” he said.

“When I retired, I said to the teachers, ‘if you’re teaching the way you did five years ago, you’re missing the kids’.”

Mr Young did two performances at the library as part of its school holiday program and a free performance at Copperhouse Court.