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The Science of Harry Potter

Broomsticks

A Harry Potter movie is all about magic and wizardry. So why is a science museum screening “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?”

Science educators say there are many lessons we can draw from Potter magic, reports Maryland’s Carroll County Times. In 2003, a Frostburg State College physics professor offered an honors seminar that examined the use of antigravity research to build a flying broomstick and whether genetic engineering could produce a creation like Fluffy, the Potter series’ three-headed dog.

Patricia Baltzley, acting executive director of the science, technology, engineering and math program in Carroll County schools, Maryland, told the Times, “There’s no magic in science but it’s something that can make learning science fun.” She added that “disappearing stuff can be explained with real science concepts.”

Science museums have also seen the value of Harry — the Chicago Museum of Science held a Pottery exhibit last year, and the Pacific Science Center in Seattle has one open through the end of January.

The Maryland Science Museum hosted a Harry Potter Day this past weekend with an IMAX screening of the film and Potter-themed classes that focus on the magic of real science — chemical “potions” of liquid nitrogen; astronomical mapping of stars and constellations; and a flying lessons class, demonstrating principles of lift, thrust, and drag.

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