Magic lessons

PHOTO: The New Paper

He performs magic not just to dazzle, but also to teach.

Part-time tuition teacher Duan Jiafei, 20, uses magic tricks to help his secondary school students visualise the science concepts they have learnt.

For example, to demonstrate the different densities between oil and water, the final year Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) student, who gives private tuition in chemistry, physics and additional mathematics, would perform a card trick to explain the concept.

"The main use of magic for me now is to teach," he said.

"I perform tricks accompanied by explanations of science concepts, and this leaves an impression on my students."

Mr Duan, who is pursuing a diploma in engineering science, has also performed magic at events in school and outside, including shows for the elderly in nursing homes.

He was the first and only recipient of the NP Character Award last Friday at the annual NP Awards Night 2015.

The award, introduced this year, recognises students who have worked to benefit others or the community.

The magic whiz discovered his passion for performing tricks before starting his first year in NP when he performed at the Direct Polytechnic Admission graduation ceremony.

"My partner and I put together a magic routine at the last minute. Our audience enjoyed it and this made me want to find out what more I could use magic for," said Mr Duan, who went on to join NP's Entertainers Club.

The club got him started with the basics and he has also learnt tricks on his own through books and DVDs.

"I'm still learning new tricks and hopefully, I can form more routines with them," he said.

One of Mr Duan's students, Megan Low, 16, who will be taking her O levels this year, said his methods of teaching serve as "memory tools".

The Methodist Girls' School student, who has been having chemistry lessons with Mr Duan for six months, added: "His tricks help me to visualise science concepts."

Performing magic has also changed him as a person.

"I used to be quiet and shy in secondary school, and I wouldn't speak up in class.

"I couldn't imagine myself performing (in front of) hundreds of people back then. Magic has made me more confident."

This article was first published on August 3, 2015. Get The New Paper for more stories.