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Duo mixes magic and science together for children’s shows

Nutty Scientists Orson Lohr (left), 19, and Justin Tietjen (right), 20, get help during Thursday's performance at University Medical Center from Savannah Torres (second from left), 6; her brother Ruben Torres,12; and Jade Sandoval, 6.

Nutty Scientists Orson Lohr (left), 19, and Justin Tietjen (right), 20, get help during Thursday's performance at University Medical Center from Savannah Torres (second from left), 6; her brother Ruben Torres,12; and Jade Sandoval, 6.

Science becomes a gloppy, goopy and hair-raising subject when the Nutty Scientists take the stage.

And, boy, do kids love it.

The Nutty Scientists, a performing duo consisting of Orson Lohr, 19, and Justin Tietjen, 20, had their first public performance Thursday.

While they’ve practiced in front of friends, the pair’s official premiere took place in one of children’s playrooms at University Medical Center, 1501 N. Campbell Ave.

“I liked the hair trick best,” said audience member Ruben Torres, 12. Torres had been recruited with his sister, 6-year-old Savannah Torres, for a water trick that left them both with wet heads.

The hair trick to which he referred was performed with volunteer Jade Sandoval, 6, who held her hand on a device that produced a gentle current. Her long, dark hair began to stand on end, not unlike a fright wig.

More than just a fun time, the skit helps illustrate some scientific concepts.

The gloppy goop was part of an experiment that illustrated a chemical reaction between two liquids to become a gel.

Pumping air into an empty plastic bottle proved it would fly across the room when the stopper holding in all the air was released.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Shery Christopher, who is helping bring the Nutty Scientists franchise to Tucson.

Created in Spain, where there are 130 franchises, the program provides “edu-tainment” for kids ages 4 to 16.

Franchise consultant Christopher’s mission is to see what adaptations the program needs to fit in the American market.

Judging from the audience reaction Thursday, the program works pretty well as it is.

“We just want to have a little fun with the kids,” Christopher said. “Get them to laugh and have a little joy in their lives.

“It’s so much fun they don’t even know they are learning.”

Christopher hopes the program can expand, as it has in Europe, to include schools, birthday parties, summer camps, workshops and other places kids frequent. One franchise is already set up in Louisiana.

But Nutty Scientists Lohr and Tietjen don’t have to think about all that. They’re too busy creating glop or shooting plastic bottles across the room.

Both lucked into the Nutty Scientist gig through knowing Christopher – and being able to memorize their lines.

Lohr is a freshman business major at University of Arizona. Tietjen is a sophomore at ITT Tech in Tucson who aspires to design video games.

Neither young man had scientific or acting career aspirations, but both have had success working with kids.

Lohr coaches wrestling at Amphitheater High School and Tietjen helps with Little League.

Both also enjoy the younger audience, not only because they may be a tad easier to perform in front of, but because they also openly show their appreciation.

“I like to see them get amazed,” Lohr said.

“A smile on a kid’s face makes your day,” Tietjen said.

Orson Lohr of the Nutty Scientists discusses the glop that was created during Thursday's performance at University Medical Center.

Orson Lohr of the Nutty Scientists discusses the glop that was created during Thursday's performance at University Medical Center.

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