Popular illusionist entertains, educates students at Dinuba Science Camp

Jason Latimer, curator of San Diego-based Impossible Science program, gives presentation for kids at Dinuba Unified to kick off first-year pilot program

Jason Latimer gives a presentation to Dinuba Unified School District students and parents during the first day of the Dinuba Science Camp at Kennedy Elementary School’s Kennedy Center on July 10. Latimer, a popular illusionist and curator of the Impossible Science program for the Fleet Science Center in San Diego, presented a first-ever summer science program exclusively to DUSD elementary school programs. (Jon Earnest)
Jason Latimer gives a presentation to Dinuba Unified School District students and parents during the first day of the Dinuba Science Camp at Kennedy Elementary School’s Kennedy Center on July 10. Latimer, a popular illusionist and curator of the Impossible Science program for the Fleet Science Center in San Diego, presented a first-ever summer science program exclusively to DUSD elementary school programs. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published July 11, 2023  • 
10:00 am

DINUBA – A popular illusionist who has brought his magic skills into the world of science and education is helping launch the opening and production of a first-year pilot program, the Dinuba Science Summer Camp, in the Dinuba Unified School District.

Jason Latimer, who also serves as curator of the Impossible Science Program for the Fleet Science Center in San Diego, performed to third-through-sixth grade students at the Dinuba Science Summer Camp on Monday, July 10, at Kennedy Elementary School. The science camp, spread over 15 weekdays through Friday, July 28, is a culmination of six months of planning and partnership between the school district and the Fleet Science Center.

Jason Latimer demonstrates the scientific effects of a laser light beam during the first day of the Dinuba Science Camp at Kennedy Elementary School’s Kennedy Center on July 10. Latimer, a renowned illusionist and curator of the Impossible Science program for the Fleet Science Center in San Diego, presented a first-ever summer science program exclusively to Dinuba elementary school programs. The camp is being held over a 15-weekday period. (Jon Earnest)

“It’s very important for a child to have a positive experience with STEAM before the age of 13,” Latimer said. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. “There are tons of studies saying that if they don’t have any experience of science before the age of 13, they probably won’t be a scientist.”

The 42-year-old Latimer has built a reputation combining illusion and magic with science to educate young students and build their passion in science. He first gained renown in 2003, when he became one of four Americans ever to win the title of Grand Prix “Best Overall” at the World Championships of Magic. He launched the Impossible Science program in 2015.

During his presentation, Latimer wowed the youngsters with the clear cups and balls, a routine he used in the 2003 world championships that he said was a routine every magician had said couldn’t be done. He said he brought the illusion to life through “perceptual psychology,” putting a solid object through other solid objects through engineering.

Dinuba Unified School District elementary school students raise their hands to ask questions for special speaker Jason Latimer during the first day of the Dinuba Science Camp at Kennedy Elementary School’s Kennedy Center on July 10. About 300 students grades 3-6 from six DUSD elementary schools are participating in the 15-weekday camp. (Jon Earnest)

Latimer also brought a drawing to life on the skin of his left arm – where the image appears to change – and had kids predict a Rubik’s Cube. He capped the performance by showing the scientific effects of a laser beam of light, and how it gives the illusion of being controlled and passing through the body.

“This is the first time we’ve taken the stage shows (out during the summer), and (our team presents) technology, engineering, arts and mathematics all through magic,” Latimer said.

The summer appearance in Dinuba is a new step in the program’s outreach. Latimer, who co-hosts a Science Channel series called “SciJinks,” gave a brief description of Impossible Science’s growth to three western states and its connection to educating young people on the wonders of science.

“Our curriculum, which is a next generation science standard curriculum, the kids are going to be learning these experiments that if you don’t understand them, they’ll look like magic,” Latimer said. “We’re going to learn how to ‘bend light,’ we’re going to learn how to read each other’s minds but through mathematics. They’ll be making things float in the air but through static electricity or sound.”

Latimer said each Friday during the camp’s three weeks, the Fleet Science Center staff will put on an Impossible Science Festival. At that event, space will be converted to allow students to do a hands-on, “mind-blowing” experience that he says builds upon what the students have learned in class.

“There’s a difference between watching me do something, because I’ve spent my life studying science,” he said. “But after these next three weeks, these kids are going to have a very extensive education in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.”

Jesse Sanchez, administrator of Expanded Learning Opportunities and School Safety for the Dinuba Unified School District, speaks as Jason Latimer with the Impossible Science Program looks on during the opening day of the Dinuba Science Camp at Kennedy Elementary School’s Kennedy Center on July 10. Latimer had just completed a presentation to students grades 3-6 and parents at the new pilot-program camp. (Jon Earnest)

Jess Sanchez, administrator of Expanded Learning Opportunities and School Safety for Dinuba Unified, helped secure Latimer and Impossible Science for the pilot program summer camp. He praised the young students signing up and the teachers involved with the daily instruction.

“Never have we had school in July, and we were looking to capture the kids’ engagement, and the curiosity (about the program) was there for us,” Sanchez said. 

The signups for the camp were capped off at 300 students and parents-family, and after a slightly lower first-day turnout and attendance was expected to get back to maximum during the week.

“To reach this many people this quickly, or on this type of scale, within the school system is truly a dream come true,” Latimer said.

Jon Earnest
Reporter