Rochford's postgrads go to magic school

20 June 2007 | Story by Daniella Pollock

The magic of science: Matthew Gore demonstrates the lesser-known use of a mirror to UCT students.

This Tuesday, Associate Professor Kevin Rochford of the School of Education took his natural science and technology students for a charmed field trip to the College of Magic in Claremont.

The group, all studying towards a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, got some science training in a rather unconventional setting. From distorted mirrors and kaleidoscopes to clever sleight of hand, the students soon realised magic is all science '“ something they would one day teach.

For example, something as commonplace as a spoon can introduce even the youngest to concepts like convex and concave. This, said Rochford, 'takes the highfalutin' theories and puts it into concrete skills'.

Staff at the College of Magic not only train the who's who of local illusionists, but also recently launched an outreach initiative, The Magic Classroom, developed by Michael Barta, a retired teacher.

The program was endorsed a 2006 Technology Top 100 qualifier by the Department of Science and Technology.

School pupils from across Cape Town visit the college for a two-hour interactive experience that uses the curriculum subjects of light, optics and colour to create a truly magical, one-of-a-kind science lesson. And it's exactly this session that the UCT group was treated to.

'The College can only accommodate so many pupils,' said director David Gore. 'With these students' visit, we are reaching so many more children.'

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