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 Tuesday, May 8, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


CU Wizards program has been educating and entertaining audiences for 30 years
By Greg Swenson, News Services

For 30 years CU-Boulder professors have been introducing Colorado kids to the exciting world of science through a program called CU Wizards. Over the years, dozens of professors including CU-Boulder Nobel Laureates and MacArthur "Genius Grant" winners have traded their day jobs for the role of a CU Wizard on many a Saturday morning.

The shows, always presented to sold out crowds of excited children and parents, have delved into all kinds of topics including black holes, the chemistry of cooking and the kitchen, liquid crystals, how muscles work, the physics of music and sound, electricity and many, many more.

One aspect of the shows that makes them so popular is it's not often that audiences get to see the creation of "elephant snot," an oozing, foaming mess created by combining common household fluids. Nor do they get to watch lasers burn holes in wood and paper, see 55-gallon drums implode, or see physics Professor Emeritus John Taylor, who was involved in the successful program for more than 20 years and went by the name Mr. Wizard, lie on a bed of nails or walk across a bed of hot coals all in the name of science.

Former CU-Boulder Professor Jim Scott and Taylor are credited with starting the program. Chemistry and biochemistry Professor David Nesbitt then took the reins and has been running it for more than 10 years.

The program is still immensely popular, according to Nesbitt, who says he receives letters all the time from people encouraging him to keep the program going.

On Saturday, May 19, following the scheduled 9:30 a.m. CU Wizard show "Waves that Changed the World" by professors Zoya Popovic and Dana Anderson – a.k.a. "Mr. and Mrs. Wizard –" the campus is holding a 30th anniversary celebration of the program. Chancellor Peterson and Professor Nesbitt will speak at the public celebration that will be held on Duane Field. Refreshments will be served and Chip the mascot will be there to greet the audience.

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