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Workshop: Children´s Science Club, Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina
Whales, Wales, Magnets and Money


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Penny History

2000 Julio 27: Puerto Madryn Anniversary Celebrations

Nabeel Shirazee in Wales with the levitation apparatushe designed

In 1865, on July 28, settlers from Wales, landed on the shores of the Gulf Nuevo in Patagonia, at a point where today the small town of Puerto Madryn is situated.

Puerto Madryn is famous for the whales that breed in its clear sheltered waters. Every year the town celebrates the anniversary of the landing of the first Welsh settlers.

British penny coins are made in Wales. The levitation apparatus, that can make them float in the air, was designed in Wales by Nabeel Shirazee.

The mayor (left foreground) listens with children of the science club

As part of the civic festivities 2000, the Intendente (Mayor) of Puerto Madryn, Julio Aristarain, joined the staff and children of the town´s science club in an interactive workshop on magnets and money.

Just a few days earlier, thanks to the HSBC bank and Dinar Airlines, 10,000 freshly minted pennies, dated 2000, had been transported to Patagonia from the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales.

Jorge Dignani and enthusiastic children

A letter of good wishes for the anniversary celebrations from the British Ambassador William Marsden to the Intendente was read out.

Jorge Dignani, one of the coordinators of Magic Penny Patagonia presented a bag of 2000 pennies to the Intendente, for use in the science club and in local schools.

The workshop was introduced by María Victoria Canullo, the other coordinator of Magic Penny Patagonia. María Victoria introduced Robin Willson, one of the founders of the Magic Penny Society and Trust in London.

María Victoria Canullo captures attention

In 1996, they had met Nabeel Shirazee in Cardiff, the capital of Wales.

Nabeel had invented the amazing levitation apparatus: some of them had already seen a picture of the apparatus in the local newspaper.

María Victoria described, how unlike Argentinian coins, the British one and two penny coins dated 1993 and later, could be attracted by a magnet. They are made mostly of iron. Using a simple horseshoe magnet, and the specially designed magic penny magnet, she showed some of the interesting things that could be done with the pennies because of their magnetic properties.

Intendente Julio Aristarian
spinning a penny by blowing

The picture of the floating triangle of 55 pennies featured on the front page of the English National paper, The Daily Telegraph, was displayed on the wall. The intendente and children were soon trying to copy it with the new pennies.

They also had a lot of fun making a coin, suspended from another coin attached to a magnet, spin by blowing it using a straw.

A coin could be made to spin at over 1000 revolutions a minute without becoming detached. At a science festival in Scotland a girl had managed to keep a two penny coin spinning for one hour a world record.

Building a levitating triangle of 55 pennies

Finally Maria Victoria pòinted to the poster on the wall of a hexagon of 169 coins, in this case argentinian pesos, next to a square made of an identical number of coins. Because of its mathematical beauty, the hexagon had been christened the Golden Hexagon of Patagonia. It was just one example of some interesting things that could be done with coins even when they are not magnetic.

It was hoped that the children would enjoy looking for other things that could be done with their own Argentinian coins as well as with their new magnetic coins.

Magic Penny patagonia looked forward to coming back to the science club on another occasion to learn what they had discovered.

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