6 Science Magic Tricks to Learn

Is it magic or science?

Science magic tricks look like magic—an effect with a secret—but that secret is based on a scientific principle or concept that makes it look like a magic trick. With the help of chemistry or physics, "magic" is "science" and "science" is "magic"!

Some of the tricks are actually stunts that are science lessons, while others are tricks that have secrets based on scientific principles. And still others are simply optical illusions or exploit a quirk in mathematics.

You can perform science magic tricks as straight-out tricks or use them as opportunities to teach scientific concepts. Either way, they're fun to learn and are sure to amaze your audience.

  • 01 of 06

    Steel Straw

    Apple with a straw
    Steel Straw.

    Wayne Kawamoto

    In this science magic trick, an ordinary straw penetrates deeply into or through an apple or potato. All you have to do is thrust the apparently flimsy straw through the apple.

    But how can a simple plastic straw—it may be examined before and after—become so rigid? The answer lies in a simple technique that takes advantage of air pressure and good aim. You'll know the trick but your friends won't be able to reproduce it easily.

    How to Do It
    1. Hold the straw in your dominant hand.
    2. Grasp it near the end so you can unobtrusively cap the end with your thumb and trap the air inside.
    3. Swiftly stab the apple or potato with the straw.
    Why It Works

    When the straw encounters the hard surface of the fruit or tuber, air gets trapped inside the straw. This stiffens the straw so it can pierce through the flesh. Once through, the air is released and the straw will be flexible again.

  • 02 of 06

    The Tube

    The tube experiment
    The Tube.

    Wayne Kawamoto

    The tube magic trick relies on a visual principle that warps perception and fools the brain. It's a brilliant optical illusion that encourages assumption on the part of spectators, and that's what shrouds the secret. They'll never suspect that there are ribbons or handkerchiefs hidden inside until the big reveal!

    This one is not only a great magic trick for kids but it's also an excellent craft activity. Kids can make the tube out of household materials and decorate it as they wish.

  • 03 of 06

    The Bill Drop

    The bill drop experiment
    The Bill Drop.

    Wayne Kawamoto

    The bill drop is more of a challenge than a magic trick, but the secret is all science, combining the physics of gravity with human physiology. To perform it, you'll ask a spectator to simply grab a bill before it falls out of reach. Despite the spectator's best efforts, the bill will always fall to the floor.

    You can even make it a bet that if they catch the bill, they can keep it. This can be quite dramatic if you are using larger denomination bills.

    How to Do It
    1. Hold the bill by your thumb and forefinger from the top end.
    2. Have your challenger place a finger on either side of the bill near the lower end, without touching the bill.
    3. Tell your challenger to catch the bill between their fingers when it drops.
    Why It Works

    Due to gravity, an object will fall at 9.8 meters per second. The human reaction time between perceiving something with the eye and responding with action is 0.2 seconds.

    It is therefore impossible for the challenger to respond in time because the bill will fall 20 centimeters in 0.2 seconds and U.S. bills are 15 centimeters in length. The bill will simply be out of the challenger's reach before they can react.

  • 04 of 06

    Vanishing Water

    Vanishing Water project
    Vanishing Water.

    Wayne Kawamoto 

    It's surprisingly easy to make water to vanish before your spectators' eyes. For this magic trick, you will pour water into a cup then turn the cup over. To everyone's surprise, no water will pour out!

    The secret to this trick is the basic principle of water absorption thanks to a common compound found in a few everyday items. As long as you don't tell, you'll be the only one who knows about it.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Floating Metal

    Floating Metal project
    Floating Metal.

    Wayne Kawamoto

    This science magic trick asks the question, "does metal naturally float on water?" When you know the secret (surface tension) and the right technique, the answer is, "Yes."

    While your friends won't be able to get a paper clip to float, you will. That's because when they drop it into the water, it will disrupt the surface tension. You, on the other hand, will show them how using a bent paper clip allows you to place it on the surface where it will float perfectly.

    Floating Metal trick from Tricks Wallet

  • 06 of 06

    The Afghan Bands

    The Afghan bands trick (or paper bands trick) is incredibly simple. It's a classic magic trick that relies on topology (spatial relations in geometry) and a well-known concept called the Mobius strip, named after the 19th-century German mathematician, August Ferdinand Möbius.

    In this science magic trick, you make loops out of paper strips and cut them down the center. The simple cut splits the with varying results: two separate rings, one long ring, or two interlinked rings. While it sounds rather ordinary, the results are sure to mystify an audience.

    The Afghan Bands trick from Michael Breck at EzineArticles