The Magic of UVA Student Chapter’s Wahoo Wizards

“Chemistry can seem magical to children and we work with that sense of mystique and wonder,” says Anne Brooks, University of Virginia (UVA) Student Chapter outreach chair. The aptly named Wahoo Wizards capitalize on the mystique of chemistry to generate interest in science among K-6 students. The Wahoo Wizards are a team of UVA Student Chapter members that perform fun, interactive science demonstrations for local K-6 students. By making visits to nearby elementary schools and libraries, the Wahoo Wizards bring magic to the classroom.

Some of the Wahoo Wizards' most popular "magic tricks" include creating slime, forming giant bubbles, and showing off electromagnets. To the kids, the science demonstrations might seem to be magic. Fortunately, the Wahoo Wizards don’t follow the rule that a magician never reveals his secret. Instead, the Wahoo Wizards explain the science behind each demonstration they perform. Each Wahoo Wizard is trained to help the K-6 students understand how the scientific principles behind the demonstrations can be found in their everyday life.

Nearly two decades in the classroom

The Wahoo Wizards were formed nearly two decades ago in 2000. Since that time, the Wahoo Wizards have reached K-6 students in many of the neighboring communities. Brooks, who grew up close to UVA, recalls when the Wahoo Wizards visited her own elementary school.

Just last semester, in addition to visiting local elementary schools and public libraries, the Wahoo Wizards participated in the Virginia Discovery Museum’s Kidvention, Ladies in the Lab showcase at UVA, and the UVA chemical engineering department’s open house. The Wahoo Wizards are hoping to collaborate with local Cville Open Bio Labs to bring more magic to the community. Brooks understands that “one positive interaction can change the trajectory of a kid’s entire life,” and encourages Student Chapters to get involved by partnering with other organizations to help get started.

Start your own outreach group

To learn more about how to get started with K-12 programming, attend the Impactful K-12 Outreach Programming workshop at the 2018 Annual Student Conference. Read about this workshop and others here.

To find out more about the UVA Student Chapter, visit its Facebook page or Instagram account. The Wahoo Wizards' website can be found here.