Science - Page 60

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In the final stage of the study , we had the children complete the Alternative Uses Test a second time .
Amy did a great job of carrying out the study and we soon set about carefully scoring the creativity tests that had been completed before and after the two lessons . Before the activities began , both groups obtained roughly the same Fluency and Originality scores . However , after the activities , the children in the magic group had much higher Fluency and Originality scores than those in the art groups .
In short , our hunch was right , the magic lesson had boosted the children ’ s creativity . Three weeks later we returned to the school and had the children complete the Alternative Uses Test one last time . This time , there was no difference between the groups , suggesting that the boost to creativity was relatively short-lived .
We were delighted with the findings but , as is often the case in science , our experiment produced more questions than answers . Why did the magic lesson enhance creativity ? Was it due to the children watching the trick , learning how it was achieved , or a mixture of both ? Did all of the children benefit from the lesson or was magic especially effective for a certain type of person ? What would happen if the children had been taught different illusions every week rather than just taking part in a single lesson ? And finally , what could be done to prevent the effect fading away after a few weeks ? Right now , we are planning various studies to examine these issues and many more .
Our study was published in an academic journal called PeerJ and quickly attracted the attention of the media . In addition , several educational websites and magazines produced lesson plans that encouraged teachers to incorporate magic into the classroom . The idea of incorporating magic into schools isn ’ t new . Over the years , many educational practitioners have described using magic tricks to enhance attention , understanding , curiosity and recall . However , our study is the first to show that magic really can have a positive effect on children ’ s creativity , and we are excited to see how this idea develops in the future . Who knows , maybe one day magic will form part of the standard school curriculum along with other performing arts , such as dance , drama , and music . In doing so , it might help to broaden minds , spark creative ideas , and create a more magical future . ■
RICHARD WISEMAN
Richard Wiseman is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK . He has written over 100 academic articles , several best-selling books , and his illusion-based Youtube video have attracted over half a billion views . The full details of this study , entitled ‘ Conjuring up creativity : the effect of performing magic tricks on divergent thinking ’, can be seen at : https :// peerj . com / articles / 11289