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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Mix Of Science And Magic Cast Spell On Students

Magic is pretend and science is real.

That out of the way, magician Kirk Charles went on to teach some tricks that depend on both. Students at Opportunity Elementary School made up his enthusiastic audience last week.

“Has anybody heard the word ‘illusion’?” he asked. “What is an illusion?”

“You see it but it’s not there,” came the answer.

Charles proceeded with his favorite illusion - the floating silver ball. As he uncupped his hands, a silver ball appeared to float gently between his hands.

The secret was a soup ladle, with the handle stuck up one shirt sleeve.

Charles comes from Seattle and is the author of several magic books, some for adults, others for children. Opportunity’s Parent Teacher Student Association sponsored his appearance.

Some of his optical illusions were simple. Hold a pencil at one end and wiggle it fast, Charles instructed. It will look like the pencil is made of rubber. About 140 pencils wobbled up and down, and a sea of faces in the gymnasium showed varying degrees of puzzlement and wonder.

But the egg trick really entranced the children. As an introduction, Charles used a bit of history:

“I need someone who knows who Christopher Columbus was.”

“He sailed on a boat,” offered one child.

“Does anyone know where he sailed to?” Charles asked.


“No, you guys are guessing,” Charles said.

Once the explorer’s claim to fame was established, Charles claimed that the egg trick was Columbus’ favorite.

And he stood an egg on its end.

It didn’t tip. It didn’t sway. It was magic.

Until Charles explained that he’d wet one end of the egg and shaken some salt on it. So the round egg was actually actually resting on a base of tiny cubes.

And that was science.

Ask ‘em about otters

Did you know that sea otter mamas wrap their babies in kelp so they won’t float away when they sleep?

Patty Brewton’s fifth-graders at Otis Orchards Elementary School know that. And a great deal more.

About a month ago when the class was reading the novel, “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” Brewton encouraged her students to learn more about the otters.

One thing led to another, and the students created 20-odd papier mache otters.

The otters were so cute, they needed a place to be admired - what better spot than the school’s main display case? So many interesting sea-otter facts came to light, the young otter experts needed a way to pass along their knowledge.

So, Brewton’s students became docents. Other classes and visitors to the school have been treated to their expertise. One day last week, the docents reeled off the most interesting thing they’ve learned. Here’s a sampling:

Michelle McMannis: “They have the thickest fur of any animal, a million hairs per square inch.”

Katy Mackey: “When they dive for food and rocks, they can’t hold everything at the same time, so they have little pouches under their arms, where they can hold things.”

Nick Sloniker: “They can swim pretty dang fast - 20 miles per hour.”

Landon Beattie: “They can use kelp beds to hide behind so sharks can’t find them.”

Did you know that?

We cleaned up at brain games

Spokane Valley students took the lion’s share of honors at the regional Odyssey of the Mind competition last weekend at Eastern Washington University in Cheney. There were several categories of competition.

Here are winning teams from Valley schools:

In the Amusin’ Cruisin’ category, East Valley’s Planned Enrichment Program team, Greenacres Junior High’s team and University High School’s team swept their respective age divisions.

In OMvention, Central Valley’s Able Learners won second in their age divison.

In Classics … 100 Great Impressions, Central Valley High School won first, Greenacres Junior High won second and West Valley High School won second in their age division.

In Tall Tales, Greenacres Junior High won second place.

Making their mark in music

Several musicians from West Valley High School have been named to the Eastern Washington Honors Concert Band.

They include: Monica Beach, Damon Beck, Heidi Craig, Tara Craig, Aaron Cross, Madeline McNeill, Mark Nance, Bill Schuster, Walt Skidmore and Allen Watke.

They performed March 10 at Eastern Washington University.

Tooth pillows to teddy bears

Elementary students at Valley Christian School exhibited their artwork this week in an art fair that coincided with the school’s pre-enrollment night.

The work showed an impressive range, from tiny tooth pillows, to log cabins crafted out of logs of rolled newspaper, teddy bears shaped from lint.

Blue ribbon winners in early judging included these names: Heather Fallquist, sixth grade; Colin Sears, first grade; Amy Johnson, fifth grade; Jared Dahm, third grade; Mark Bove, first grade; Cameron Eden, third grade; Scott Ferguson, first grade; Mindy Rice, fifth grade; Christopher DuMerton, fourth grade; Matt Loucks, sixth grade; and Joel Ansett, pre/first grade.

State, here we come

West Valley High School’s Knowledge Bowl team won second place in Tuesday’s regional competition.

Team members include Tim Fackenthall, Alan Leong, Jasan Sullivan and Josh McClintock.

, DataTimes

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