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September 2005

Denjiro Sensei

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Denjiro Sensei controls a bubble using a balloon charged with static electricity. (Yonemura Denjiro Science Production)

A teacher named Yonemura Denjiro (Denjiro Sensei) who presents scientific experiments in fun and unique ways has become popular among Japanese children. Denjiro Sensei is in great demand to appear in shows and on TV programs throughout Japan, and he has released a bunch of books and kits that explain his experiments and allow kids to perform them in their own homes.

Denjiro Sensei was born in 1955. He was originally a high school teacher, but he struck out on his own to show others how much fun science can be. Today, he is active as a "science producer" on many different fronts.

Denjiro Sensei's science experiments are not really that complicated. For most of them, he uses common household articles like detergent, salt, cardboard, plastic bottles, and balloons.

Experiencing the weight of air (Yonemura Denjiro Science Production)

Denjiro Sensei applies basic principles of physics and chemistry to produce phenomena like static electricity, light refraction, and simple chemical reactions. During his experiment shows, he performs what appear to be unbelievable feats right before his audience's eyes, such as making soap bubbles float in the air with the power of his hands and making a cup disappear in the blink of an eye. He is so skillful with his tricks that he almost seems to possess magical powers, and his experiments are sometimes called "science magic."

For Denjiro Sensei, it is important not only to surprise the kids who see his experiments, but also to arouse in them a sense of inquisitiveness and wonder, which he hopes will lead to an interest in science. Unlike regular magic, where magicians seldom reveal their secrets, Denjiro Sensei explains his tricks to the audience, along with the science behind it, in a way that is easy to understand.

Denjiro Sensei has even taken his act on the road, performing his experiment show in Singapore to an enthusiastic reception. Many kids around the world view scientific experiments as difficult and boring, but Denjiro Sensei makes the study of science a lot of fun.

In Japanese elementary schools, kids have homework that they do over summer vacation, part of which involves performing research and experiments on a topic of their choice. While lots of kids procrastinate all summer long before scrambling to get their work done at the last minute, plenty of others look to Denjiro Sensei for hints and struggle with their own experiments. Some of these kids might one day grow into junior Denjiros!

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