Explore Graphite with this Pencil Magic Trick
In this science activity, kids will explore the properties of the mineral graphite while learning a cool magic trick.
Graphite is a form of element carbon. It is a relatively soft mineral that easily leaves marks on various surfaces, which is why it is often used in pencils. It can be found in igneous rocks on earth --and in meteorites from outer space!
This trick may require some practice before you do it in front of an audience!
Before you start the trick, be sure to rub some hand lotion onto your hands.
Now explain to your audience that you are going to do a magic trick in which you will transfer a number onto the palm of your assistant's hand.
Ask for a volunteer to be your assistant, then ask your assistant to pick a number between 1 and 10. Use a pencil to write this number on a sugar cube; make sure to push down with the pencil so the number is dark.
Press the sugar cube into your hand, making sure that the graphite number is pressed up firmly against your thumb. Wave your other hand (or a magic wand!) over the hand that is holding the sugar cube. Without the audience seeing, check to make sure that the number has rubbed off the cube onto your thumb, then drop the cube in the water.
Now hold the volunteer’s hand over the water for a couple seconds and say some funny magic words to "magically" transfer the number. Make sure your thumb -- the one with the number on it -- is pressing up into their palm as you hold their hand, and that their palm is facing downward. This should transfer the number from your thumb to their palm.
When you remove your hand and turn their hand upwards -- voila! -- the number should be showing on their palm!
To demonstrate for younger children, an adult can do the magic trick using a child as the volunteer.